November 09, 2007

lives and forks

I was having lunch with two new, and increasingly good friends of mine today. We were all devouring exquisite butter chicken, salad and raita - and lubricating it all with mango juice.

And we were inevitably talking about food - because that's how we're becoming friends...our work lives descend (I think I mean ascend) into discussions on how to cook curry, where to find any good Mexican food, what's the best way to stop onions from incinerating...

And we were talking about Alice Waters - because I had read the article in about her and was trying to quote some the things she said, which resonated with me - like the smell of onions and garlic - like home.

"When we're eating fast food, we're not just eating the food, we're eating a set of values that comes with the food. And it's telling us that food should be cheap. It's telling us that food should be the same no matter where we are on the planet. It's telling us that advertising confers value. That it's OK to eat 24 hours a day. That there are unlimited resources. It's telling us that the work of the people who grow or raise the food is unimportant -- in fact we don't even need to know. And all of those values are informing what's happening in the world around us."

Later on she said instead of thinking of a meal as something to get over as quickly as possible..."get out of that mind-set and tell yourself cooking is a meditation. I like to do it. It's relaxing for me to come home -- it truly is! -- and wash the salad. I love to see the salad in the sink. To spin the salad. I like to dry it. I like to pound to make a vinaigrette with my mortar and pestle. I enjoy grinding coffee and putting it in the filter and warming up the milk. It's part of a ritual that gives my life meaning and beauty."

So, of course, I ordered her new book.

So I was telling my friends this. Both these women are mothers.

And the mum who has three kids, said she met her neighbour at a party last night. Her neighbour also has three kids, her oldest just a year older than my friend's. So they share a lot of the same insights and overscheduledness, and concerns as their kids transition through their teen years, and sit on the cusp of adulthood. The Mums sit, and with crossed fingers, hope they've raised them as best as can be...

So the neighbour's eldest has gone off to university this year. And my friend said her neighbour misses him. She said there's a hole in the house where he isn't. And when does he pass through her the most? When is his presence missed? It's when she's cooking. When she's making something she knows he loves and he's not there to smell it, to savour it, not there to be enriched by it. And of course there's an echo at the table where he was. The eating without him - the meals are where the echoes of him are the loudest - that makes her realize life's progress...

I just thought that was beautiful - that she had found mindfulness in that.

Have a great weekend.

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