Do you live to eat or eat to live? For me, I live to eat as Food is life. I do hope that by reading my post you will change your mind and the relationship that you have with food. Or a relationship that you probably once had with it, but forgot over time, due to being stuck in a rut and the pressures of life. Even if you never really thought about having a relationship with food, and only saw it as a fuel to your body, I do hope, my words will change your mind and like
Cooking was a communal process back in the days of our grandmother. There was a beautiful rhythm that flowed in the kitchen. From chopping, mixing, kneading, stirring ingredients together, it included many people to bring food to our table. I grew up in a house where cooking was the centre of life. Family gatherings revolved around food and besides politics, food was the trending topic for discussions.
Meals were cooked fresh from scratch. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were made only a couple of hours before consumption. Lunch had not even ended and my Mother wanted to discuss dinner options. Each meal was lovingly and carefully crafted with a focus on fresh ingredients. Local and seasonal produce was procured fresh from the market on a daily basis. There was no room for processed foods or snacks. My mother made sure of that as an expression of her love and care with a focus on her amazing cooking.
Mom made everything at home including butter, condiments, yogurt, snacks, home made chips, ice creams, pies, cakes or cookies. I hardly remember buying anything from the bakery, as she had a passion for cooking and baking. Thanks to her, I grew up knowing good food. We ate together at the family table to connect and bond as a family. No television was allowed and no eating on the couch either. That’s what my mother learnt from her mother and the generations before, where family mattered most, in the hope that their legacy would continue through the family recipes and traditions to keep the future generations together.
Lost in Nostalgic Translation
Alas, things don’t always turn out as expected. In today’s neo-liberal society where everything is so structured and competitive, the focus has shifted. The little joys of life have been replaced by performance, skill, the pressures of the society, and consumerism. Everyone is running a rat race, no one has the time to just slow down, to cook or eat together. This whole ideology is feeding off people’s insecurities and vulnerabilities. We all seem to be lost in some kind of nostalgic translation. Seriously, don’t you miss the simple days of your mother’s kitchens and the authenticity of the innocent laughter that was shared over the family table? The innocent minimalism that we were so content with? I know I do!
Are you paying attention to your plate?
There were not many distractions like smart phone’s, social media or internet in the 1980’s. Life was simple and that simplicity reflected in our lives with a focus on family, food and cooking. But with the influx of social media and technology today, we have made our lives so complicated. Eating food seems to have become a mindless ritual. We don’t celebrate our kitchen and our plate anymore, the simple act of cooking that transforms nature’s abundance into culture, memories and togetherness.
I have a few simple questions for you; how many of you really chew your food, eat in front of the television, or while surfing the net? How many of you live on takeouts, frozen and microwaved meals?
According to Michael Pollan, we have lost the real meaning of food and one of the loss is the lack of cooking at home and sharing it with others around us. In his Netflix series, ‘Cooked’ Pollan echos, “We’re consuming food carelessly with no sense of ceremony, no sense of community.” “When we learned to cook is when we became truly human,”. As after all food is life!
My cooking journey
Since my mother was already whipping up great meals, I didn’t learn to cook till I was in my twenties. When I left home in my teens, for years I relied heavily on packaged, processed convenience foods. It was easier to just buy a ready made meal and pop it in the microwave. Microwave, don’t even get me started on that! My husband and I made a conscious decision to never buy one. And four years later, I can confirm it was the best decision ever.
Anyways, when I was living alone, I didn’t cook for myself, it didn’t seem like it was worth the effort. Can you imagine that, did I not love myself enough to make an effort? Probably not, and my excuse was I am too tired after studying, working, blah blah blah! But nature has a way of mirroring things to you that you take for granted. I was definitely taking myself for granted with all the conveniently packaged meals. Soon it started taking a toll on my health. That was my signal. I knew, it was time for me to stop what I was doing and slow down. So I decided to pick up my apron and start cooking for some self care and love as that’s most important.
I was pretty surprised at how much I enjoyed the process. Why had I been missing out on this amazing activity, the most basic and sustainable act of life. Also, I seemed to have the gift of my mother’s natural flair for cooking which had been passed onto me by default. I loved how the simple act of cooking led to conscious eating, and a great engagement with not just my plate but the people I began to share it with. I loved visiting the farmer’s market, foraging for ingredients, trying out new recipe’s, experimenting with flavours and global cuisines.
Breaking Bread Together
Eating is a shared experience that brings people together on a table. While for some food is a source of pleasure, for others its a matter of survival. No matter the reason, the simple act of eating together connects people. It feeds not just the senses but the soul. After all food is the most powerful form of love. And I grew up in a family that loved sharing food, where hospitality truly mattered. So, to share my food with others comes naturally to me. I love how it connects and engages people over a shared common passion. The conversations, the shared laughter that flow, all powerful emotional connectors that create stories and bond people.
On my journey, I wanted to extend that love and connection to the people I met along the way. During my days of travelling solo, I reached out to people to cook and eat together. I cooked with some amazing hosts who extended their hospitality to me in their kitchen. To share their stories and eating together were some of the most powerful memories I have that linger till date.
Slow down to create stories around your table
Food invokes lost memories and sets the scene from the past. It brings back life experiences that we might have forgotten and food acts as a catalyst between the past and the present. So, don’t lose yourself in the nostalgic translation by eating take outs and processed meals
This video sums up my sentiments and the power of eating together. Hope it inspires you to slow down and focus on the little things around you. 🙂
You might also be interested in reading my other article on Swedish Fika as the Swedes know how to do it right. http://nomadskitchenstories.com/theswedishfika/
Here is something simple, easy and fun you can do to begin baking, slow down and engage with your plate. http://nomadskitchenstories.com/apple-rhubarb-crumble/