For as long as I can remember, nothing has made me more content than to be in the kitchen. After years of working under my mother's watchful eye, and gradually creating dishes on my own, I have reached this one conclusion: being with food makes me happy. I would have to assume that I am not the first human being to experience such feelings; Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin stated several hundred years ago, "The discovery of a new dish confers more happiness on humanity, than the discovery of a new star". And shouldn't it be so with everyone? If one's mind, as well as body, cannot be made truly well by this 'medicine', then food has failed. Thus far I have not been let down!
Just as the purpose of medicine is to heal, I have found that the purpose of food can be so as well - on deeper levels. Food has the ability to touch the soul of a person, the very core; It sends messages to places in the human body that traditional medicine would dare not enter. Could there be any other explanation for a soldier, hardened from war, to shed soft tears after tasting his mother's corn pudding once again? Or the silence that follows a screaming baby after her taste buds are met with the familiar sweetness of milk? I am convinced that there is not.
Although they play a major role in the potency of this wonderful 'medicine', I beg you not to limit the amazing affects of food to your taste buds. As you let your other senses benefit from its healing powers, you will discover that the aromas, sights, even the very ingredients, have, in some form, the desire to make us feel what nothing else can make us feel; to help reconnect us with the little things that add up and make us who we are. Perhaps something as simple as a bowl of vegetable soup, which, while beginning the healing process in our bodies, is, at the same time, bringing back fond childhood memories and touching our hearts.
That is just one of the many ways that food connects with us. Have you ever wondered why, while cooking in a strange kitchen, you don't feel the anxiety that is so often a result of strangeness? Or while dining with someone you've only just met, there is never an uneasy moment? These positive feelings would be expected if you were in a familiar setting, or enjoying food in the company of old friends. But to find them in different situations must be a result of the one reappearing 'ingredient': food.
Food in any form demands the absolute participation of one's body, mind and soul...and who doesn't feel good after giving something their all? It amazes me how food works with the body's natural feelings, abilities and habits to enrich our lives in any way possible - whether it be physical healing or bringing joy to your heart.
In spite of everything that modern medicine has done for us, no amount of pills or potions can give you all this. And with only one side affect, perhaps the most uncommon of all...happiness.
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