Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Cooking is sensual

You eat to live or live to eat.

I fall into the second category. My mother was a gourmet cook, my grandmother a plain New England cook but meals at our house were always an important part of each day. Not only did we enjoy the food, it was time to catch up on the days events if not to discuss food, politics, books or whatever felt right at the moment. The table was nicely set and manners were taken for granted or else...

The pewter pitcher, which now holds my cooking spoons, forks and spatulas, was filled with ice water causing beads of moisture on the outside. I loved to run my finger down the pitcher creating rivulets.

Except for having to drink my milk, it was a wonderful time of day. My mother and grandmother did allow me to add Bosco to help me swallow the horrible white stuff. Mostly there was laughter.

As a parent as well as part of a co-operative where my daughter and I lived with two other adults until she was a teenager, our schedules were such that meals together usually involved a sacrosanct Friday night and weekends. Even when we were in process of renovating a house, good smells would override the paint odors as a stew or spaghetti simmered on the stove to be enjoyed at the end of the day. Sunday night before we started the next crazy week was especially meaningful because we could truly enjoy each other's company.

When my daughter and I lived on our own, sitting down to a meal was important not just for the food but for the conversation. Sometimes we did have "rude" meals where manners gave way to picnics in front of the television, but again "breaking bread together" was more than the sum of its parts.

Rick and I may get our own breakfasts and suppers, but the noon meal is a must with a properly set table and work put aside. Sometimes we opt for a restaurant, but more often I cook and he cooks sometimes.

Today, cooking was a joy. 

We'd been out to the shops to get the ingredients, chatting with the owners as we made our decisions on what would be best. It's chilly again and our cheeks tingled just a little. Even though we didn't buy bread, the smell of it baking wafted out on the street as we passed on the many boulangeries.

Once home, Rick went back to work, and I began to prepare lunch.

I seasoned the lamb chops with rosemary and thyme, browned them in local olive oil and added bouillon and balsamic vinegar that I reduced for a light sauce.

The peas were fresh and local. Opening them was like opening a gift. Some of the peas were tiny, some were oval. All were small enough to cook quickly.

To leftover couscous I added finely chopped fresh mint, left over chickpeas, cherry tomatoes and cucumber for our salad.

The smell of the fresh herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers as well as the cooking meat were part of the pleasure as was the colours and feel of the herbs being pressed into the meat. As the title says, cooking is sensual.

When everything was ready, Rick broke from his writing chores and we sat at the table and talked, looked at the new hibiscus and pansies blooming on the terrace.

The enjoyment of the routine reminds me that each minute of each day can be special, but it is up to me to make it so.

1 comment:

Julian Rixon said...

That's a wonderfully evocative piece of writing. The meal you cooked with the leftover cous cous sounds delicious.