The joy of cooking, by Libby Moore

Ask my husband how I feel about cooking and he’ll tell you that I moan and groan about having to cook every day, and he’s right. The daily chore of thinking about what to eat and having to shop for it and prepare it does get me down sometimes.

But put me in the kitchen with guests coming for dinner and it’s a whole different story – I’m completely absorbed in chopping and dicing and putting together the ingredients to make people happy. I love experimenting with new recipes, finding combinations I haven’t used before, adding ingredients that sound like they’d work well together. Cooking can take me away from the present, sometimes – remembering how my mother, too, could use all the utensils in the kitchen creating something as simple as a mushroom omelette. Remembering the college friend who taught me to chop vegetables with a chef’s knife, having learned it from his mother who cooked at a dude ranch in Montana. Using my grandmother’s potato ricer, which was handed on to me by my aunt, complete with instructions about using a wooden spoon and heating the milk before adding it to the potatoes. But most of the time I’m just where I am, in my kitchen, looking out at the pond, chopping and stirring and tasting and washing up.

So is this a spiritual practice? It’s intentional, it’s focused, it gives me clarity of mind and helps me sort out what’s important – like making sure there’s enough garlic in the eggplant dip and that the fresh parsley is minced finely enough. It feels spiritual, and I love doing it. And I love the result at the end, the table full of well-fed people laughing and talking. Other people in our Wellspring group have talked about discovering that gardening or walking in nature was their spiritual practice. I do yoga and meditate in the morning, and that counts, for sure, because that’s what the books say I should do as my spiritual practice. But I think cooking counts, too. Why not?

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