“I just couldn’t get away from the siren call of the kitchen that is an inherent part of me. The kitchen of which I speak is both literal and metaphoric. It’s the sum of what I’ve learnt so far, and am still learning.” – Sophie Dahl, Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights.
I have a confession to make: I hate cooking. I hate it. It literally makes me itch. Now, like a lot of things in my life, if I was okay with hating cooking, then all would be well, but I don’t want to hate cooking.
The weird thing is that I love the idea of cooking. New cookbooks make me drool. I pre-ordered Sophie Dahl’s new cookbook months ago and lovingly caress the covers of Risotto with Nettles and Plenty every time I am in a bookstore. I open the pages of Heidi’s books and something in my soul feels better – just owning them nourishes me – but I have yet to cook anything from them.
In my dreams I stand rosy cheeked and happy beside a stove while cooking something delectable. Stirring fresh basil into my sauce, I create magic just like Vianne in Chocolat. In reality, my back starts to ache and my teeth grind against one another in barely contained tension. It’s so bad that my husband (who cooks nearly all of our meals) completely avoids the kitchen when I am making dinner.
What is it – the missing ingredient that links desire and reality?
I know that I love beautiful things and that good food can be exquisitely beautiful. I love the whimsy and the theatricality of ingredients and their presentation. I love the alchemy that is involved in something going on its journey from seed to plate. I can be the most rapt and appreciative dinner guest – but it loses all magic when I am the one having to do the work.
So there is the challenge: learn how to find the exquisite in the preparation instead of just the outcome. See the beauty that lies in the work. Delight in the journey.
Or just get someone else to cook for me.
I am completely open to invitations.
Viva La Vida: Live the Life
I think everyone has had one of those weird moments when you realize that even your cells are responding to something. It’s never when you expect it and it always sneaks up on you. I had one of those watching Coldplay perform at Glastonbury on the BBC.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I am a real fan of Coldplay and love watching love perform. Viva la Vida always makes me want to really get up and move. But when I was watching this performance where you could see the whole band clearly, I was completely caught up in watching the drummer, Will Champion do his thing. Holy crap. Talk about putting your whole self into the moment.
Go here and watch out for him (although they don’t show much of him here, if you are in the UK you can watch lots more here.) If YouTube has taken it off, just trust me: turn up the base, put on Viva La Vida and feel that drum.
Will Champion: I am a fan!
“This is what comes from dabbling. You can’t practice witchcraft while you look down your nose at it.” – Aunt Jet, Practical Magic (the movie)
When I was a teen-ager I decided I wanted to do yoga. Typically, rather than go to a class I read a book about it. The book I chose told me all about the diet and the philosophy and it freaked me out. Be a vegetarian? Meditate? At 16? You might as well have asked me to go to Mars. What would people think?
When I discovered new age and esoteric bookstores at the age of 17, I would spend hours in them, thumbing through books and wondering what it was that compelled me so. I’d spend so long in them that the smell would cling to my skin afterwards. I was too nervous to pay attention to that call. What would people think?
There is a great scene in the movie Practical Magic where Sandra Bullock’s character Sally has caused huge problems by using magic. Stockard Channing’s character scolds her with the line I have quoted above. But the only reason that Sally looks down her nose at magic is because she is desperate to fit in – she worries what people will think if she admits who she is. There is a bit of universal truth in there. You can’t properly practice anything if you are worried about what people will think. You can’t embrace your true self if you are also desperate to fit in. If you are dabbling in something, on some level you have decided not to admit that that is who you are.
On my shelves there are multiple dozens of books with a scrap of paper in them that mark the place where the book got uncomfortable. The bookmarks show where I stopped growing and stuck with dabbling. They show the place where it got dirty or scary or wild or raw or sacred or in some other way too much. So that is where I am going next. It makes perfect sense to me that some of my pathmarkers are bookmarks, because words have always been how I find my way.
(picture of the Practical Magic green house borrowed from hookedonhouses)