The Pleasure of Food Preparation
Like so many life activities, with food preparation it is not so much about what you do as it is about the state of mind you bring to the doing. From a state of mind that is committed to mindful pleasure in food prep will come an entire process that supports that pleasure.
Think about the last meal you prepared: was it a slog, or a delight? Was it a "have-to", or was it a "get-to".
Whichever your answer, give some thought as to what made food preparation a slog, or a delight. Here are some of the factors that go into the "slog vs. delight" calculation for me:
- Thoughts are about the end result more than the process - "let's get this meal done and move on!"
- Thoughts are more about what else I could be doing other than preparing food - "I sure need a few more minutes on email rather than this darned food prep"
- Focus is on speed of preparation -- "got to get through this"
- Food choices are based primarily on speed or ease of preparation - "If I use frozen spinach I can save myself 10 minutes"
- I devise ways to multitask during food preparation -- a phone call, for example
- Focus is on the process, and my curiosity about it -- "I wonder if adding some tricolor quinoa to the white will strengthen or weaken its self-adherence"
- Spirit of experimentation abounds - "I wonder what would happen if I . . ."
- I have given myself enough time to do a good job with the whole process -- "No rush -- I've got this."
- I'm relaxed, breathing easily, smiling -- "What's better than moving easily through the kitchen, enjoying the whole thing?"
Now, each of us has a different combination of factors that make for pleasure in food preparation. Here are a few factors, though, that may make a difference for you:
- Ingredients -- love the ingredients you're working with.</li><li><strong>Tools</strong> -- have the right tools for the job.
- Environment -- create a kitchen ambience that supports you, whether it has to do with tidiness, or lighting, or music, or company. Prepare the room for your pleasure!
- Time -- make sure you've got enough time to do a good job without rushing.
- Creative spirit -- connect in with your creative essence. Experiment. Try new ingredients, processes, quantities.
- Mindfulness -- put all your attention into what you are doing in the moment. Breathe. Relax. Focus on the food and your relationship to it.
- Notice the beauty -- notice the colors, textures, the play of light and shadow, among your ingredients and tools.
- Generosity -- connect in with your giving spirit, even if you're cooking only for yourself. Find the pleasure of giving.
- Attitude of gratitude -- be thankful. Be thankful for:
- The high-quality food you get to work with.
- The electricity or gas you are using to prepare it.
- The tools -- knives, spatulas, pans -- that support your efforts.
- The time you have to create your meal.
- Your own creativity that you are lending to the process.
- Moment-to-moment awareness -- Check in with yourself throughout the process. Your body will give you feedback anytime you check in. Is your breath short and shallow or slow and easy? Are you dropping things in your haste? Where are your thoughts?
Go for the pleasure. It's a terrific barometer.