February 27, 2013

Sensory Indulgence: The Pleasure of Mindful Cooking. ~ Olivia Coleman

Source: crateandbarrel.com via Donna on Pinterest

At three years old, meditation was my favorite activity.

I’d intently watch the world around me move, chest pressed to mom, at ease in her arms. Of course I had no concept of meditation then (maybe that’s why it was so much easier).

The same force that compelled me at three to observe the world absolutely, moves me still: beauty. The subtlety of sounds, intricacy of sensations and vibrancy of colors are so astounding. The deeper I look, the more beauty I find.

But now there’s more distraction in life: work, expectations, vices and technology. It’s easy to forget this omnipresent opportunity, which waits only for my attention, to totally blow my mind.

Thankfully, there are reminders everywhere. The other day, as I complained of feeling disconnected from the earth, my food and my health, a thoughtful friend suggested I try mindful cooking. “Just pay attention as you cook,” she said.

And so I did. Below is an account of an ordinary morning made extraordinary by the power of perception:.


I tip and turn the pan, watching streams of oil slide up, down and around. My hand reaches for the nob below—click, click, click, wushh, the smell of gas rises. I calibrate to the lowest low and swivel to chop.

A clove of garlic and slice of ginger, slightly sticky underhand, divide into tiny squares at the behest of my small, sharp, silver knife. Their scents enliven with each stroke. My first four fingers roll the pieces together, lift the little pile and drop it into the pan. Sizzllllle… the squares of flavor spark and shake.

Mesmerized by the electric dance, I grope for the handle to my right, r-e-s-i-s-t… and release. A cold breeze calls my attention to the bag of spinach, carton of eggs and segment of lemon tantalizing from the top shelf.

Soon I’m selecting leaves. Inspecting and de-stemming, I feel very particular. They drop to the pan and soften, saturate. Fresh scents escape as I stir and apply pressure to the dimpled lemon slice. Juice drips. The hot pan responds with a harsh whisper and gasp of steam as arrant streams trace my fingers.

An egg nearest me in the right-hand row looks just right. So with a brisk tap to its middle, white and yolk find the heat. I feel for another cool, round, brown egg and hold it for a moment between three fingers. A quick brush with the pan lip releases the insides out.

Swirling slightly, I guide the egg whites to touch each corner and crevice until all the pan’s contents are connected. For a few moments I watch—engrossed in the small shimmies and explosions that radiate through the liquid as it changes form.

Remembering Auntie Carolyn’s advice, I grab the pan’s handle and navigate to the sink. Just a drizzle of water rains down, sliding over yolks into valleys of white gelatin. Now it’s my turn to slide, back across the linoleum floor to trap the water and heat with a stern glass lid.

One peak to sprinkle cayenne, black pepper and salt. One more out of curiosity—almost.

The freezer bursts cold as I retrieve brown rice bread. I offer two slices to the fiery metal fences and roll the dial past 3, 4, 5. Slightly burnt on the edges, crisp in the center, perfect. Toasty smells waft into the cupboard where I lift other plates to uncover my favorite; light and large with red and blue flowers set to encircle my masterpiece.

I return to bright egg whites and yokes that move so slightly, spin the slick dial off and seize the spatula. Egg edges are easily uplifted and with a swift finagle so too is the meatier middle. Slowly sliding, my frittata finds the plate and with a Pop!—the toast offers its attendance.

Assembled and stunning, my collaboration with farmers, chickens, sunshine, rain, truck drivers, gravity and grocery store clerks summons me. There’s little to do now but sit in a sunny spot and savor the simple awesomeness of it all.

A born seeker, singer and stargazer, Olivia is happiest flowing in art, meditation or conversation. She blogs of her personal mindfulness journey on Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr. Lilian Cheung’s website, Savor: Mindful Eating Mindful Life and loves to swap stories. Talk with her – here.




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Assist. Ed: Madison C.
Ed: Brianna B.

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