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Old 07-21-2005, 12:39 PM   #1
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Cooking and spirituality

I haven't found this topic here (did I miss it somewhere?). My point...How do you feel about or relate to the concept of cooking and spirituality?

When I cook a recipe that mom taught me, she's with me. Thanksgiving is a time when I feel very close to my country and my family past and present. We have special foods we make for holidays (holy days) be it Easter or Passover or Ramadan. We have national traditions. etc. Food is a part of religious tradition and sacrement. And it's preparation is as important as any other part of the celebration.

I could get a lot deeper, but let's leave it here for the moment. Any thoughts??

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Old 07-21-2005, 01:33 PM   #2
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Spirituality is a very personal thing with very mixed emotions. People can view it several ways so we try not to discuss it here. I don't want this thread to be a debate about religion - we've had those before and each and every time the board gets severely divided - same goes for politics - tempers flair and before you know it someone will need to be banned.

I can say that when I cook it "feeds my soul" and cooking is how I love my family and even going to the grocery store I view as "loving". Thanksgiving is the most important holiday to me - it's a day to get together with family and friends and just appreciate one another without any retail-related gimicks.
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Old 07-21-2005, 01:45 PM   #3
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Elfie - IMHO, 'religion' and 'spirituality' are 2 different things - I think this is a great topic, and I hope we can keep it going!

After my son was hurt, when I was just too numb to do anything, I would go into the kitchen and cook - didn't matter what, but just the fact that I was doing 'something' helped. And the fact that I was able to feed people and give back some of the comfort I had received was a huge blessing!

There's a wonderful book by Richard Espe Brown, called 'Tomato Blessings and Radish Teachings". If any of you are familiar with the 'Tassajara Bread Book', he's also the author of that. Tassajara is a Zen monastery in California, and Brown is/was (not sure) a student there. There's a great story that I've taken to heart in it, about when, one day, he was asked to assume the cooking duties in the kitchen when their previous cook had left. So, he gets all hung up in how important it is to feed all the people there, and wants to please everyone (too much salt, not enough, etc.), and finally gets so wrapped up in projecting and wanting things to go perfectly, he was freaking out. So he went to see the Zen teacher at the monastery, who heard his story, and simply said to him, 'When you wash the rice - wash the rice'. Meaning - be in the moment; focus on what you're doing at hand, and life's problems will work themselves out!
That simple saying, with all that's behind it, have become one of our favorite sayings at our house! When we get too frazzled over the latest curve ball life has thrown us, we remember to 'wash the rice'.
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Old 07-21-2005, 02:00 PM   #4
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Correct Marm! If you are a spiritual person, everything you do should have that spirituality as part of whatever you are doing.

I try to be more spiritual and less religious.
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Old 07-21-2005, 02:15 PM   #5
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decided this wasn't really pertinent to the post
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Old 07-21-2005, 04:18 PM   #6
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elf, I fully understand the caution, and I hope not open a can of worms, because I don't enjoy those recipes. But I was wondering what others felt connected to. Connection to people, places, times, ethnicity, celebrations.

Personally, my parents are connected to homemade soups, stews, beans of all kinds.
I have a passion for discovering new regions and countries through their cuisine.
I believe that people come together around the table.

I don't think these are too controversial, but I do understand that fights can break out over the best pizza, or the right ballance to a Bolognese.

peace y'all
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Old 07-21-2005, 04:37 PM   #7
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For me spirituality means being connected - being at peace and being in tune. Fo me cooking is very spiritual. One of the reasons I am big on fresh, seasonal produce and keeping food miles down is the connectedness I like to feel with my food, the people who produce it...everything. And in the kitchen, using my hands, keeping mechanical things to a minimum, and just taking the time to enjoy, and as marmalady so beautifully quoted, "when you wash the rice - wash the rice"

One of my favourite cooking times was when I worked as a carer in a home for 4 young-ish people with severe disabilities. None of them had ever eaten fresh salads, or even the most tamest of spices. And I cooked them oven fried chicken and four different salads. They all looked at me and said that no one had ever cared enough to cook like that for them. That's spirituality, being connected, to the food and to others.
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Old 07-21-2005, 04:41 PM   #8
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I am no longer a religious person. I consider myself an agnostic.

BUT

One of my cookery books is a family 'receipt' book. Started by an ancestor in about 1816. When I cook recipes from that book (only 'tweaked' slightly for modern cooking methods) I feel 'connected' in some way to my gt-gt-....... grandmother.
She cooked in a house not disimilar to the one I now live in, but many miles north of Edinburgh. Her husband was a lawyer... and she started the book. There are dishes she could to impress his friends and family... there are simple dishes that she cooked for the children. There are anecdotes written as part of some of the recipes.

Her daughter added to it, and so did HER daughter... then they ran out of room in the ledger sized book...

Yes, spirituality can be there when you cook!
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Old 07-21-2005, 05:29 PM   #9
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For me, it would be the Earth. Connected to Mother Earth from my American Indian roots. All food comes from the earth.
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Old 07-21-2005, 06:26 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ishbel
I am no longer a religious person. I consider myself an agnostic.

BUT

One of my cookery books is a family 'receipt' book. Started by an ancestor in about 1816. When I cook recipes from that book (only 'tweaked' slightly for modern cooking methods) I feel 'connected' in some way to my gt-gt-....... grandmother.
She cooked in a house not disimilar to the one I now live in, but many miles north of Edinburgh. Her husband was a lawyer... and she started the book. There are dishes she could to impress his friends and family... there are simple dishes that she cooked for the children. There are anecdotes written as part of some of the recipes.

Her daughter added to it, and so did HER daughter... then they ran out of room in the ledger sized book...

Yes, spirituality can be there when you cook!
What a great book to have.
What memories and love they shared with you.
Yep, that's spirituality.

When my grandmother died she left her recipe box to my aunt. My aunt is one of those people who refuse to share a recipe. I'd give anything to have an hour alone with that box. There are so many dishes that I can remember grandma making ... but, I've no idea how she did any of them.

Enjoy your book!!
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Old 07-21-2005, 09:58 PM   #11
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yup I'm checkin up on this post. It seems we are really in tune with this, (and I thought your post on making your own traditions and home was very pertinent, kitchenelf.) There is a post under three crocks which could go here too. It is a wonderful tradition and connectedness to be using mom's wodden spoons, or dad's carving knife, or grandma's china, etc.
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Old 07-21-2005, 10:06 PM   #12
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I spend a good portion of my cooking experimentation on trying to recreate some of my mother's recipes I remember so fondly.

I don't look at that as a spiritual thing. It's a connection to my past and my mom, who has been gone for almost 25 years-memories of times past. As a foodie, a connection through food is natural. It's a way I can try to recall some of the happy times that centered around family dinners at the kitchen table.

Remembering mom's cooking, and the happy memories it invokes is why I try to cut all my veggies for soup into perfect little shapes - that's how mom did it. Her mashed potaotes never had lumps so mine don't.

I too look forward to Thanksgiving as it was, and is, the major food holiday. I really have to cook a Thanksgiving dinner and get very cranky if I'm "cheated" out of it. When I lived alone for a few years between relationships, I cooked a full Thanksgiving dinner for myself more than once.
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Old 07-21-2005, 10:17 PM   #13
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I'd give anything to have an hour alone with that box.

okay pds here's what you do... go visit her often.
then you ask her to see old pictures. when she
walks away grab the box and run like a bat out
of heck out the door. then say you forgot to turn
off the oven or something
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Old 07-22-2005, 12:49 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by middie
I'd give anything to have an hour alone with that box.

okay pds here's what you do... go visit her often.
then you ask her to see old pictures. when she
walks away grab the box and run like a bat out
of heck out the door. then say you forgot to turn
off the oven or something
oh goodness, you made me laugh! Thank you Middie!!
Run like a bat out of heck!! I like that.

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Old 07-22-2005, 01:00 AM   #15
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I don't know that spirituality is the word I would use, connection is more my term.

As some of you know my Dad passed away this fall; and for me I maintain my connection to him with certain meals. There were things I made for him that he loved and now when I make them I can feel the echo of his pleasure. Big family meals are a special treat, they bring the warmth of family far distant close to your heart.

I make some things in my kitchen and think of specific people. Pickles bring to mind a few special folks, bologna sandwiches another, and raising a glass of wine at dinner yet another.

I love this thread Robo, and I sincerely hope that everyone respects the spirit in which it was started so it can live on for a long long time.
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Old 07-22-2005, 02:32 AM   #16
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I have my mum's recipe book that she wrote favourites in from the 60s(when she got married) onwards. They may not be very exciting or anything but sometimes I just sit and hold the book and pore over it because its her handwriting and it brings back memories of good times or certain foods.
I love making some slices or biscuits which she used to make. At her funeral my cousin was remembering that mum always made Toll House biscuits.
I read a book once I think it was "Like water for chocolate" and the mood the cook was in when they cooked affected the foods taste etc I can't remember all the details but it really illustrated this thread.
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Old 07-22-2005, 09:58 AM   #17
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I looked high and low for my mom's recipe for Hawaiian spareribs - I can remember her looking at a certain smaller cookbook with a metal ring binder - I spent hours, months, years - trying to find these wonderful ribs.

One day (probably about 7 years ago) I was holding the last book I had in my hands knowing FULL well this is the book I remembered but I had gone through it so many times before. Sitting there defeated - I tend to read cookbooks from the last page to the beginning (I don't know why) so instead of going to the index like I normally do I just opened up the back binder - there it was handwritten by her - my poor DH and son thought I had hurt myself I was crying so hard. Those were the BEST ribs ever - and I made her favorite side item like she did.

I too love to see recipes my mother has written down. I have her recipe box and I absolutely love looking at it even though it's this little plain brown box with some recipe apparently torn off the top of it that had stuck to it by accident.
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Old 07-22-2005, 10:43 AM   #18
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I think that cooking helps to define us as individuals.

Everything that we are is reflected in our cooking, our heritage, culture, race, economic status, whether we are from the city or the country,........

Cooking is one of the bonding glues that ties us to our peer group and family.

You know this when you serve family favorites that have come down from generation to generation. That is why you know without even asking, if certain dishes will be appreciated by your relatives.
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Old 07-22-2005, 11:44 AM   #19
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Raine, my friends and family call me "Mother Earth" because of my affinity with growing things. I am a very spiritual person, and feel a strong connection with those who have gone before me. I feel they will never die as long as I have them in my heart, so when I prepare my grandma's recipe for chicken pot pie or my Aunt Velma's big, soft, chewy sugar cookies, I feel close to them.
Spirituality is a hard thing to explain, but I found this definition: "devotion to metaphysical matters, as opposed to worldly things." I feel connections not only with friends and family, but all living and growing things...even the earth beneath my feet.
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Old 07-22-2005, 11:48 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robo410
yup I'm checkin up on this post. It seems we are really in tune with this, (and I thought your post on making your own traditions and home was very pertinent, kitchenelf.) There is a post under three crocks which could go here too. It is a wonderful tradition and connectedness to be using mom's wodden spoons, or dad's carving knife, or grandma's china, etc.
At first I thought what I wrote was pertinent then I thought it was just my own personal struggle with realizing that "home" was now where I lived. In retrospect I guess it was ok. Thanks for your statement on it though.
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