It is more then just a kitchen!

When I first was led to, I was not sure whether my writing about food would fit. I am not a restaurant reviewer, nor do I spend hours developing recipes. Yet, for me, food is so much more then that. My philosophy of food has changed dramatically over the years. When I was younger, food ranged from something that you had to eat to avoid being punished (my mother could bake, but not cook) to something which amazingly appeared before your eyes at a restaurant and you did not have to do the dishes. Food came from the small markets, the grocery store, and the backyard. My favorite foods were the raspberries that never quite made it from the raspberry patch to my mother’s kitchen and the pickles, pickled tomatoes, and sauerkraut at the pickle king. 

There have been times in my life when food was what you ate because you were hungry, but for a good part of my life, food was a source of comfort. It was what I turned to when I was hurt, angry, lonely, or tired. An old friend of mine once said she could tell who I was angry at by what I was eating. Food was my drug of choice. Instead of drinking or drugging, I ate. And unlike my friends who had a delusional body image and thought they were fat at a size 1, I didn’t quite see myself as “morbidly obese” even when I had surpassed the 300 lb mark on the scales.

The kitchen for me has been a place of spiritual and physical transformation. It has gone from a place where I went to get my emotional fix, to a place where I am working on myself and becoming enlightened in the process. Kahakai Kitchen, a foodie on, has a quote from Shunryu Suzuki Roshi on her profile page. "When you cook, you are not just working on food, you are working on yourself, you are working on others."

I have come to realize that what I cook, the ingredients I choose or do not choose are reflections of where I am at in my own journey towards reclaiming my physical well being. When I am hungry am I just grabbing the leftover whatever from the night before or am I taking the time to make a well-balanced meal. Have I even planned far enough in advance that I thought to buy wholesome ingredients at the store so I could do that? I am not just contributing to my physical health and well being, but that of every member of my family’s and all those who eat at our table.  What an awesome responsibility.

Sometimes I fall down and do not think about this, like the other day when I got into this baking frenzy and made a batch of orange brownies, Mexican Wedding Cakes, and chocolate white chocolate chip cookies. Clearly, scrumptious, but not healthy. On the positive side, I have also come to realize that my ability to ignore the treats that are stored in airtight containers in our kitchen is an indication of recovery. 

I am also reminded that for me cooking and baking is a central part of my spiritual evolution. I recall reading a conversation between Ram Das and his guru about this. As I recall, it went something like this.

Ram Das:         How will I know God?

Teacher:           Feed people.

Ram Das:         How will I become enlightened?

Teacher:           Serve them.

For me, it has become through the process of feeding and serving people that I have continued to grow in my relationship with myself, with others and with my Creator and it has been through serving them that I have become enlightened. The kitchen has become the context through which much of this transformation has occurred.