A quick note regarding love and cooking. Yesterday I was listening to a podcast of Krista Tippett on Being (one of my favorite programs on NPR), wherein Krista was interviewing Dan Barber in front of an audience. During the Q & A, an audience member asked Dan whether he believes that cooking with love makes food taste better. Interestingly, Dan said that he certainly hoped not! He said that he was not a nice person in the kitchen, very hard on his staff, etc. This got me to thinking about a conversation I had with a former culinary school classmate of mine. This friend, a self-proclaimed hippy, has decided to stop working as a personal chef for now because she feels the need to connect on a personal level with her clients because she wholeheartedly cooks with love. She asked me how I dealt with cooking for people I didn’t necessarily see eye to eye with. I told her that, although I do cook with love, that love is always directed toward the food. To me, food is sacred. In cooking a meal, I feel that I have to honor the source of that food — the earth, the farmer/rancher/fisher, etc. We all need to eat, just like we all need air and water. However, the thing with food is, you could theoretically have a thoroughly pleasurable experience every time you seek to gain physical sustenance. A great meal with the right people can be transcendent. I know this is a very lofty sentiment — not to mention, a very privileged one — but, I do find immense beauty and spirituality in the fact that we can gain so much joy and spiritual sustenance from something that we need to partake in every day of our lives in order to survive. On my best days, that is what I mean when I say that I cook with love.
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