One of my friends messaged me a picture of rice pilaf – the dish that she ordered in the restaurant. The rice looked so beautiful that I could virtually smell the fragrance, and my mouth started watering. Where food is concerned, I let all my senses – sight, smell, taste and the sound- go wild. This perfect sensory amalgamation is the key to savoring the food on our platter.
Ever wondered why the food prepared by a loved one tastes divine and satisfying?
The energy of the cook influences the overall taste and experience of the food. Though the fresh ingredients, spices, and herbs render a flavor to the dish, the key ingredient to every recipe is the intent. No wonder the food served with love tastes delicious and gratifying!
The above logic does explain a lot about the varying degree of cooking outcomes for the same recipe. When I am grouchy, I inadvertently also season my dish with a pinch of bad temper. And at other times the burnt rice also tastes delightful.🙂
Another reason for the variations in taste is also because I do not cook with precise measurements. I follow my instincts. Cooking, to me, is what painting is to an artist! No two pieces of art are the same, nor are my dishes. There are off course pros and cons to this approach. Firstly I cannot share my recipes due to lack of measurements, and then there is always an unpredictability (I like to call it a mystery) about the outcome even though I’ve prepared the same recipe multiple times.Then there is also the joy of creating an edible piece of art.
The dance of spices in my pantry
For me food preparation is beyond a chore; it is an act of love. Love for myself and for my family who I want to nourish. I cook every day, sometimes multiple times in a day. As I usually cook Indian meals, needless to say, it is a laborious affair, nonetheless, an activity that I cherish (on most days).
My love for food translates into the affinity for spices. These are the ingredients that offer exceptional flavor and fragrance to the dishes. I have over fifty spices and their blends in my pantry, some that I use more frequently than others. Besides the flavor, these spices render inherent health benefits-
- Turmeric- a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
- Cumin-relieving nausea, stomach pains, indigestion and diarrhea
- Cayenne-helpful in arthritis, weight loss and as a decongestant
- Asafoetida-helps in treatment of bronchitis and aids digestion
- Coriander powder-an antioxidant and relieves abdominal pain
Eating food is much more than providing your body with the nutrition
My Yoga teacher illustrates an example of a body that gulps down food while watching a horror movie. In doing so, the body’s nervous system is distracted towards the stress or excitement, thus inhibiting the body’s digestion process. The result is a sub-optimal absorption and an unsatisfied body that tries to consume more food. And this habit of distracted eating is one of the causes of weight gain.
The ritual of being seated in a relaxed environment and engaging all your senses to relish a meal results in physical and emotional well-being. That is the reason the experts now emphasize the benefits of mindful eating. No wonder, before I even taste, my sense of sight and smell signals my digestive system to prepare for what lies ahead!
Next time, if you are confused about using fork-knife, chopsticks, spoons or your hand to eat, just remember, your mind (awareness) is all you need to dive into your platter, and you will not be disappointed.
Having such an eternal bond with my food, I find the idea of having food in a pill, as seen in the various science fiction movies, incredibly ludicrous. I cannot fathom gulping my entire food experience in a matter of second.
I am not willing to give up my love affair with food. At least not for years to come! What about you?
Photo credit:Rachna Bhalla