Happiness, Zen & The Art of Food
Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray. ~ Rumi
Tonight a guest post from a dear old friend and the author of a most excellent blog, Good for Spooning I highly recommend that if you love food or cooking that you give it a look and here’s a video of her giving a live cooking demo on How to Make Home Cooking Fun. Given her love for food and how much joy and happiness it brings her I thought she would make an excellent guest poster for the Ministry of Happiness. So thank you LeAnne, and here’s her post on how food brings her happiness, give it a read and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane
The Reverend Kane and I have known each other for more than 30 years and I was thrilled and honored when he asked me to share my thoughts on the happiness I derive from food. For some it is the simple pleasure of eating, and that is surely there, but for me it runs MUCH deeper.
On my spiritual journey I have sought happiness, enlightenment and peace, just like everyone else. I thought if I could learn to meditate, I’d be happy. And while I tried to meditate, I found I simply COULD NOT do it. I couldn’t empty my head and BE in the moment. I would do my yoga postures like “corpse” and “half lotus” and feel like a complete failure because I couldn’t empty my mind and BE in that moment. Until I started seriously cooking. When I say “serious cooking” I mean just that, getting serious about my cooking.
I’ve always enjoyed cooking, even as a teen. I like putting food on the table for people to gather around and enjoy. I like the feel of a full belly (who doesn’t?). But, I didn’t start getting really serious about my cooking until, like Julia Child, I entered culinary school later in life. Even though I had been cooking for more than 25 years, I wasn’t truly investing myself in it. To ace the class, I spent hours chopping onions and potatoes (I practiced a LOT on those because they are cheap). That’s when it started. The humble potato. I found I couldn’t talk, watch TV, listen to music or do anything else while I was trying to batonnet, julienne, or precisely dice. If someone tried to talk to me while I was doing this I had to put the knife down and give them my attention, because I couldn’t give my full attention to the potato. I had to focus on the task at hand. Empty my mind of everything but the potato and the knife. BE in the moment. At last I had found a way to come close to meditating! The simple realization that I had found a way, FINALLY, to come close to meditation made me deliriously happy. I loved it, like the proverbial fat kid loves cake. I began to crave the experience of meditation and I found that it led me to bliss and that my food was better for it. When I was blissed out on the task, my food tasted better, looked prettier and was more fulfilling all the way around. And that made me Happy.
There is now a certain “Zen”, if you will, to most of my cooking now. I can, and certainly do, enjoy having friends and family cook with me, but those times when I am under stress or out of sorts, I find myself seeking a somewhat difficult, engrossing or time consuming culinary task to help me get centered. I find joy in growing my own food and the dedication to detail that involves. I find happiness in tackling a culinary challenge that I never thought I could accomplish. I breathe deeply and close my eyes and relish the fragrance when I deglaze a pan, stir a sauce or simmer a stock.
On the face, it all seems rather simple, trite and some might even think I am off my rocker, but learning to be serious about my food is the closest I have ever been able to come to peace. While it may not be the path for many, I have found happiness in the search for, destruction of and rebuilding of a food so it can be consumed. The task of creating the meal feeds my mind and soul in very much the same way as the meal itself feeds my body. And being fed makes me Happy!