Wednesday, March 11, 2009

High Cuisine -- It's About Love

It's not poetry, but also of the heart.

It's About Love

The other night while enjoying my bowl of soup, I had to reconsider what really makes food good. This was not just a warmed up can of Campbell's. Marily makes a pot of soup most every weekend in the winter. We enjoy it in the evenings the rest of the week. And she does other cooking on the weekends too, for our lunches. For her it is a way to eat good and save money. That, I appreciate. Not just with gratitude for a job well done within our household budget. What others may consider left-overs, I relish with joy. I realize now that what Marily has done for me all these years is not just her best effort to fulfill certain traditional duties in our marriage. It is a matter of love.

This week's soup was apple-brie. Last week it was vegetable bean. Other dishes we've enjoyed over the past few weeks are butternut squash, cubed and steamed, over ravioli and wilted spinach, Swedish meatballs in cream sauce with Chardonnay, on brown rice, and crusty butter-crumb vegetables. Why is it all so good?

It's the love. I have to say, the love. We do eat out occasionally, probably twice a month on average. And we enjoy some good meals out. But why are they good? Again, it's because of the emotional experience. I can't imagine having a pleasant meal at a cafĂ© or restaurant by myself. It is the friend or friends we share the meal with. Or even better—just the two of us. Menu selection, ingredients and technique are a small part of cuisine. Love is the larger part.

And of course, besides the love shared in the company of others, there is the same energy applied by the chef. Is that why some restaurants stay in business year after year, and others fold? Is it the love that is put into the recipes and presentation by the chef? And the staff? Love infused into what we do, I feel, is the key to success.

Think about it. We love our cat, Miles. We treat him with love and he loves us. He is a living, breathing entity sensitive to energy, to feelings—to love. Food too is of a living life-form. Life detects life. All matter can be considered a storage device for energy. Energy it re-radiates. Transformer of life and of love.

Food, being closer to life than say, a rock, has perhaps more potential to redistribute energy. But anything we handle with positive intent will pass on the uplifting energy. Our craft is an art when we give it our love and out of love.

Marily puts a lot of that love energy into her food and cooking. It starts the day before when she is thinking of what might be the menu for the following week. Upon awakening Saturday morning, or maybe even half way back from a dream, the decision is made. As I start my day of writing, or basement cleaning or needed repairs, Marily is starting an orchestration of kitchen utensils, grinding flour or chopping vegetable. Checking the culinary score sheets and amending the recipes as she proceeds has advanced the quality of her productions over the years.

I am a lucky man. I would have it no other way than to be married to such a woman. I'm a lucky man. But it didn't start with us. Marily's mom has always been an excellent cook, as well. She passed on the tradition of loving service to her family.

My mother too. I remember taking Marily to mom's kitchen after we were married. I wanted to have her learn to make the bread I grew up with. She learned it well. From a city girl to a gourmet chef, who uses the harvest of my garden through the winter—I couldn't ask for a better partner. In March we are still enjoying recipes with the butternut squash stored in the basement and Ramano beans in the freezer.

Marily's Swedish and Italian heritage serves us well. With love. Love nourishes, love heals, love grows.

See a related peice about my garden: The Kitchen Garden. It is in poetic form.

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