“At a scale not seen in over 50 years, America is cooking, a healthy move in the middle of a pandemic.” Hans Taparia/New York Times
The kitchen is my second favorite room in the house. I consider it a place where my creativity and love of delicious food unite to create a combination of ingredients to nourish myself and share great tasting food. Cooking and being in the kitchen gives me comfort and peace in such a strange and difficult time. My mother who created wonderful meals led the way for me, she was my teacher in the process of making food with love. While my mom passed away in 2013 she’s never left my side, whenever I cook she’s right there with me. I cannot imagine a more soul satisfying way to spend days at home then enjoying the process of making delicious, healthy meals that satisfy my intention to eat mindfully.
While there have been many negatives with COVID-19, there are a few benefits, one most prominent is the return to the core of family and cooking and serving real meals at home. Cooking at home isn’t only a means of satisfying our appetites, it is a cultural pillar of socialization that stems from the love of family, friends and the essential human bond of togetherness. This terrible situation has forced people to return to family closeness and better health.
When I was growing up, going out to eat was uncommon, our togetherness and the terrific food were matchless. Did you know that since the inception of the pandemic over 100,000 restaurants have closed, not just independently owned, but many major chains have had to close either some or all of their restaurants? My personal opinion is that eating out has become too common, as ordinary as filling a car with fuel. I see this pandemic as an opportunity for people who treat food as necessary to discover homemade food as a personal link to the care of their body as well as a fun and creative way to enjoy food.
A simple but lovely prayer that I found:
May this food that you provide
and that I prepare
bring nourishment to our bodies
and renewal to our souls.
Amen (Simon Carey Holt)
Cooking at home is a primary element to good health. A few people who have tried to promote the benefits of cooking at home made far less impact then COVID-19. A turn of events that has the potential to improve the overall health of many Americans who had previously relied on take out and restaurants in place of cooking at home. Around 30.3 million people in the US have type 2 diabetes and 84.1 million are prediabetic. making this pandemic a perfect storm to take the time to learn to cook and find ways to improve our health through fresh and healthy ingredients.
“The need to home cook has never been higher, since the coronavirus has been most threatening to people with food-related chronic diseases. About 90 percent of those who become seriously ill due to the virus have an underlying condition — hypertension and diabetes being the most common. New York Times
Above and beyond the nutritional and health benefits is the connection with the ingredients that feed your body. We are evolving away from institutional, commercial food to fresh food. A better environment is created when meals are made and enjoyed at home and mental health benefits are considerable. We pay more attention to what goes in our meals and the way we feel when we eat. For instance, I’ve been slowly reducing the amount of sodium in my food to adding no salt recently. So, I’m ramping up the herbs and spices to make healthier food that is full of flavor and it’s a big success. I consider myself a home chef because I am able to create many meals without the use of a recipe, so I followed the chef standard of adding salt to everything, even sweets so this was a big change for me, but one that is driving a new creative path and a new relationship with the ingredients.
I recently watched a show where a group of people, a historian and archaeologists left the 21st century to immerse themselves in the simple and hard life on a farm in the Victorian era for a year. If you think cooking is a challenge now, just consider the life of someone who cooked using a charcoal fueled stove and oven, preparing food from scratch that they gathered from their garden where animals were butchered that they’d hand raised. That is the true spirit of home cooking embodied in a life lived naturally and self-sufficiently.
The act of cooking should be a spiritual practice that fuels the soul. Create a kitchen that is not only peaceful and beautiful but a sacred space. Here are some methods to connect the kitchen and preparation of food to the earth and all of life.
- Declutter your kitchen, keep it clean
- Keep in mind that this is a space where everyone will participate in the important rituals of treating their body and heart with special care
- Make the meal cooking process an event, whether you’re cooking with someone or you’re on your own
- Turn off and remove any electronic communication devices to increase your consciousness around the food you’re preparing
- Be respectful of the room, of the food that is created and what the room represents, your loving care will be predominate
- Organize the counters and cupboards for beauty and ease of use. What I had duplicates of or didn’t need, I donated. Whatever changes you make do it so you feel inspired such as adding candles, pots of herbs or flowers
- Cook mindfully and with love paying attention to all of the dishes that you’re making. Always keep in mind that your energy effects everything around you including meal preparation
Finally, think about how you show up in the kitchen, just as you do in your relationships with people, be thoughtful and mindful of your relationship with the room and the process of preparing food. Fall into step with nature and the beauty of creating meals whether simple or complex. Enjoy and celebrate the food that you make. Let your imagination soar, with access to millions of recipes on the internet, anything is possible in the kitchen.