i once heard a buddhist bread baker say that we should 'treat our food as we do our eyesight'. i will admit that i wrestled with this. while i agree that what we eat is as important as our ability to see-- both are basic to our lives and health-- to our ability to function well in the world-- our modern world makes food into a much more throw-away part of daily life than our eyesight. the idea of taking that much care over my food seemed daunting-- time consuming, expensive, and hard to fit in to my busy life.
and yet recently-- for health reasons-- i have been cooking everything that we eat from scratch. the main meals, the vegetables-- even the condiments-- we bring into the house as raw vegetables, fruits, and meats-- and slowly turn them into the food that we consume.
what i have found is that it does not take so very long to make 'slow food'. it takes a little re-arranging of my time, and a slightly different way of thinking (i make large batches of 'sauces'-- tomato paste, for example-- that i store for when we need them). some nights i don't cook at all-- i just pull something that i made a day or two before out of the refrigerator and heat it up-- while some entire afternoons are spent cooking.
this new way of cooking (and thinking) is a rhythm that i am finding to be very restful. i don't change the recipe for tomato paste very much between batches-- and so it is a nice, easy, memory-based-project. while my body finds its routine my mind is free to wander-- to partly be minding whatever pots are on the stove while i think about a new chapter for my book, or a way to communicate better with my teenaged daughter.
my family and i notice things we didn't before. if we simply opened a jar of apple sauce, we were not aware of what kind of apples made that particular jar. now-- apple season here in new england-- we are very much aware of which apples are the most flavorful when boiled or baked for a long time. we are aware of the season, of the best place to buy the best apples-- we have all commented on feeling more grounded and settled in general.
we feel whole.
the food that we eat is central to our experience of life. treat it as you would your eyesight.