Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Risotto Road to Enlightenment


Last night, a funny thing crossed my mind while I was making a risotto, nothing.  I was so enrapt by the process, that I must have went a good 10-15 minutes without the usual mental chatter.  It was just add stock, stir, add stock, stir.  I was completely living in the moment like a Zen master, until E entered the kitchen and interupted my reverie.

This got me thinking about the meditive properties of cooking.  So many of the usual tasks of cooking are repetitive and require your full attention.  When you really look at it how different is prepping vegtables from the Zen meditation practice of zazen.  Instead of foucing you mind by sitting still and counting breaths, you focusing your mind on slicing and dicing.  When you are dicing an onion, you world collapses to job at hand, the only sound you hear is the snick of the knife slicing through the onion and hitting the board.  It's nearly magical that this simple task can hold the chaos of the world beyond the kitchen is at bay, at least for a while.

While "What is the sound of one hand whisking" will probably not be made an official Zen koan anytime soon, the forced mindfulness of cooking may bring us closer to inner peace.  It certainly helps me.  And, you get to eat your path to elightenment.

8 comments:

Cajun Chef Ryan said...

How true John, so very true that cooking can transcend all other happenings and worries of the world. Like being in the "zone", on the front lines during service on a busy night, you are moving so fast you have no time to think, your hands are moving, body turning, lifting, tossing, add a pinch here, put another fillet on the saute pan. In sports they call it muscle memory.

Tasty Trix said...

Well put. I totally know what you mean - sometimes when I'm kneading bread or chopping or stirring or just getting set up I experience the same sense of peaceful unfocused focus that I used to feel when I did tai chi ... (which I should start again but that's another story).

Tamar1973 said...

Mark Gungor talks about men having a "nothing box". Women usually aren't so lucky! LOL!

MaryMoh said...

Am thinking.I either listen to music or some good messages or my mind will start to think of the next recipe from what I am doing. It's like building inspiration upon inspiration which is tremendously exciting and yet it comes with the serenity and relaxation that is uninterrupted by the outside world.

Fresh Local and Best said...

It is true, somehow the process of slicing, chopping and stirring become one with you. It can me quite relaxing.

FeistywithFlavor said...

Your post brought a smile to my face. The first place I go when I am stressed and need to relax is the kitchen. My favorite stress reliever is homemade bread. There is something about taking your aggressions out on the kneading process. The funny part is that my family has come to recognize that when I am stressed and in the kitchen they will eat well!!!!

DINING WITH BATALI said...

Very well said! I can relate to every word! Cooking is therapeutic for me and I lean on my pots and pans to give my mind a break from my crazy hectic life. Thanks for sharing

Lele said...

Risotto cooking is my zen mode time too.

Although, actually, sometimes I also work in strength training- stir, bicep curl, stir, squats. So as to cancel out the risotto I'm about to eat :D