Food has always been an interest of mine. Mostly eating, but cooking as well. Growing up I have vivid memories of watching cooking shows on PBS with my grandmother and dreamt of complex flavors and textures. Learning to cook when I was a teenager was entirely out of my own interest, as I wanted to cook for my family and friends. I still remember pretending I was a host of one of the shows I would watch, with all pre measured and chopped ingredients, describing each step and having such enthusiasm about every aspect of the dish. As I grew up and filled my life with things that made me too busy, this way of relating to food became a thing of the past.
In my 20’s as a full-time student working myself through college, the passion for food was still there, but savoring each moment of the experience felt like a luxury I did not have the time to afford. It had to be the right time when all the stars aligned, and miraculously my schedule was clear to really enjoy the whole process like I had previously; and when does that ever happen? Weekend and special occasions felt like too far in between.
As an adult, I realized life wasn’t like the television shows I was watching. Nobody was preparing and measuring ingredients for me. Food felt more like work and my meals reflected this becoming more of a necessity rather than fun. Thrown together quickly to satisfy my hunger so I could keep on to the next thing. I rarely sat down with my full attention on a meal. Homework or tv would usually be just as big a part of my meal as the food.
This month is my two year anniversary from when I took my first course with the Welcomed Consensus. Something from that experience that I carry with me is when Susan describes eating an oyster.
You wouldn’t quickly slurp down an oyster just to fill your need for food, but rather you would approach it using all of your 5 senses; sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. I think of this often, as it has become a metaphor for me that I use to enjoy many activities, but for the purpose of this blog post, I will stick to cooking and eating.
My life has changed many times since I took that first sensuality course. I am out of school, but just as busy. Just as many reasons to quickly throw something together, eat on the run, or multitask. The part of my life that has created the biggest impact of how I cook and eat is that I have chosen to be a sensualist. This means enjoying each part of the experience using all of my senses.
I recently went on vacation in Kirkwood where a friend of mine has a cabin. It feels easy while on vacation to choose convenience over enjoyment when it comes to meals. Especially breakfast when the excitement of your plans overrides your time for preparing a meal with love. I deliberately decided to set aside 20 minutes in the beginning of my packed full day to enjoy each step of preparing and eating breakfast. It started from the moment I woke up.
As I came down the stairs, my eyes still groggy and half asleep, I was greeted with the earthy aroma of my favorite medium roast coffee. Drips of water filtering through the grounds became louder and clearer as I made my way to my favorite mug, slate gray with darker spotting around the rim. Slick to touch. Sturdy and weighted in my grasp. The glaze grew lighter in contrast to the rich darkness of the coffee inside. Creamy thick white liquid swirled into the black depths. Raising the mug to my mouth intensified the scent as the bouquet of bright citrus tones filled my taste buds.
I grabbed a bowl and put a spoonful of purple sauerkraut at the bottom. Spicy bursts of flavor wafted toward my nose, while salty cool tears rolled down my cheeks with each slice of onion. Moist saliva filled my mouth as paper thin slices mixed with sauerkraut staining the translucent onion purple.
Placing a long green pepper on the open flame of the stove the skin instantly began to blister and turn black. Popping and crackling filled the room. Softened green pepper rings added a fun colorful pop to the arrangement of fresh beautiful vegetables in my bowl.
Snap. The egg dropped out of its shell into rapidly boiling water and the whites began to solidify and curl upward. From clear and runny to solid and firm, now my egg was done. I topped my bowl with the egg and sat down to enjoy what I had created. As I burst the seal of the egg yolk I watched as it coated the rainbow of colors I had paired together. Bright purple, smoldered green, and deep rich orange.
A symphony of flavors danced in my mouth with the first bite. A robust tang of the sauerkraut carried through each bite. The crunch of the pepper was softened by the roasted blackened skin, creating a soft burned intensity. Thick buttery yolk oozed off my fork, draping and blending into the bowl.
After my meal, I felt high, because putting attention on myself in this way feels good. Choosing to be a sensualist, enjoying food in the ways I did as a child was something I wanted. Through my recent experiences, I have gained even more than I anticipated. I feel gratified through cooking and eating. This gratification keeps me inspired to want to keep this as a part of my everyday life.
You don’t have to be a food enthusiast to enjoy your meal, or a food show host to have fun preparing food, you don’t even have to eat something as lavish as an oyster to slow down and savor each bite. I can choose to keep having these experiences throughout every meal.