Cooking, Baking, Mindfulness, & Spirituality
I’m going to get a little woo-woo here, so bear with me.
There are so many significant things that can be associated with the food we eat: memories, culture, family, nature, home, community, and so on.
But I think that cooking and baking can also be a bit spiritual.
I was thinking about this yesterday while I was making marmalade for the first time. Out of the blue, the night before, while I was looking though recipes and trying to decide what to cook for the week, I was hit with the need to make the citrus, sweet spread. And when that happens there’s no resisting—I get a crazy craving and have to make whatever random thing popped into my head. I’m quirky that way.
And talk about a labor-intensive process. I spent at least 2 hours peeling oranges, carefully scraping and cutting away as much of the pith (the white stuff on the inside of the rind) off as I could to prevent it from being too bitter, slicing the rind peelings into even thinner pieces, slowly separating the orange fiber from the juice with a spoon and mesh strainer, and mindfully watching and stirring the sugar-orange-rind mixture for an hour till it reach the right consistency.
I’m sure it sounds a bit ridiculous to spend so much time making something I could so easily buy at the grocery store. But I would do it again. And probably will. Because…
The feel and weight of the perfect little fruits in my hand, just soft enough to know they were ripe as I washed and dried them for cooking, reminded me to be grateful. How lucky was I, their color was flawless, with only a few minor dents and nicks interrupting their seamless texture.
While I was peeling the oranges, the smell of the citrus oils as they erupted into the air in fine mists was absolutely gorgeous. The growing cramp in my hand was completely eclipsed by the bright and uplifting scent of the orange spray that I could see in just the right light, tiny speckles floating in the air.
The grace and flow of the liquid mixture as I swirled my wooden spoon around the pot, displacing the rind slivers floating about, was mesmeric. The balls of my feet were starting to hurt from standing barefoot on the hard floor all that time, but I couldn’t step away, watching as the boiling bubbles went from fast and excited burst to slower, rolling releases.
Cooking and baking make you slow down and exist in the moment.
You feel the textures of the food as you prepare it. You hear the sizzle and splatter of hot oils ready to meet your measured mixtures. You experience the heat of the stove or oven on your arms and face as you cook. You smell the melding of herbs and ingredients as you warm them.
I think this mindfulness and the connection we make to the food that is going to nurture our bodies so we can continue to live in them, feeds our souls too—especially when we are able to make from scratch and by hand. I think, in a way, it connects us to our humanity.
We make food to live, to feed the ones we love, to care for our communities, to connect with our cultures. And the act of cooking and baking doesn’t have to just be about eating, but slowing down, being in the moment, and reconnecting with a visceral part of ourselves.