Through the Fire
I haven’t mentioned my book, Through The Fire, cooking our way into a new relationship with food, in quite a while. Yes, I would still love to have you buy it and read it. It’s on Amazon or ask for it at your local independent bookstore.
One of the sections in the book has to do with bringing the Sacred into your kitchen and into your cooking. Much healing can come from acknowledging the Divine, and having a sense of reverence about what we do in the kitchen.
I’m not sure what guided my thinking to this recently but I was remembering the pages about one’s last meal. There is a fabulous book My Last Supper by Melanie Dunea, which is interviews with many famous chefs about what they would choose for their last meal. The menus range from very elegant, expensive, and elaborate feasts to a simple really well made hamburger. It’s a fun read. What would you choose ? My answer varies day to day. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want anything on the elaborate and expensive end, except maybe for a really fancy bottle of really good champagne. I adore champagne and have never (yet) indulged in an expensive bottle. Today I am thinking that a beautiful charcuterie and cheese plate would suit me really well. On my last day, I could happily indulge in bread and cheese, both of which I love and avoid due to sensitivities. The phlegm and the crankiness the next day wouldn’t be an issue.
It was probably about 15 years ago. Visiting my parents, I was having a challenging time being with them. We were arguing a fair amount and getting on each others’ nerves. One afternoon, I was down to my very last nerve, when my father launched into some sort of unwanted advice or chastising me about something. I don’t even remember any more what it was about, but I had had it! I said some harsh words and stormed off to the guest bedroom . It was weird for me to stay in there. My childhood furniture in this sort of formal room with not much character all added to my feeling as if I didn’t belong. I had never lived in this place and I didn’t fit in. I sulked and moped for a while, then had a revelation. My father was rapidly aging and what if that was the last conversation I had with him? What if those harsh words were my final memory of being with him ? My father, whom I adored. My father, who adored me. My father, from whom I had learned about unconditional love. So, swallowing my pride, I quietly went back out to the living room. I put my arms around my father, kissed him, and said I was sorry. I told him how much I loved him. We both cried a little. Later that day, I vowed that I would always end each conversation and each day that I had with my parents with “I love you” . I pretty much stuck to that vow and have extended it to a wider circle of people.
In later years, I have thought, what if I had the same sort of attitude about eating. What if whatever I ate today was the last thing I ate ? What if what I cooked for someone else was the last thing they ate ? Or, what if I woke up tomorrow and I had lost my sense of taste ? What if what I ate today was the last food I ever tasted or smelled ? I really don’t believe I would take those memories with me after death, but what if ?? What if, for eternity, I remembered eating something terrible or that I had shame around ?
How about if we cultivate this attitude now and not only treat each other as if it was our last day together, but that each meal was our last. If you were feeding a loved one their last meal, wouldn’t you want it to be exactly what they want and would truly enjoy ? Don’t we deserve that for ourselves ? For each and every one of our meals ? This means listening and getting to know what it is that our body is asking for, what our Soul needs in that moment ? It may be chocolate chip cookies and ice cream, and it just might not mean the whole bag and carton. It might mean the amount that will give energy and pleasure. It might be a salad. Make it the best salad you’ve ever had.
Find pleasure in fresh delicious food right now, not when you are thinner or healthier or on vacation. Plate it thoughtfully. Set the table with things that you love and cherish. Make some new memories. Let’s make our meals beautiful and meaningful each and every day.