I was so grateful to spend my morning in the company of two beautiful friends and their children. One friend made her soothing tea for us. She carefully prepared the blend of herbs and spices and stirred patiently while it simmered and infused. Then we took time to sit together and enjoy the wonderful result. It was such a simple and beautiful thing. The care that went into making it was tangible in the resulting brew. You could taste the love in each cup
I know, I know, bloomin hippies, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea for sure. But the point I’m making is that the nourishment we get from food is about so much more than just healthy ingredients. Nourishment for me is partly about the quality of attention I give my food and this is one of the enormous benefits of living a simple life. We have more time to devote to the enjoyment of those things that deserve our attention.
I love food and I love to cook, my life pretty much revolves around it. Preparing and enjoying healthy, nourishing food with my family is definitely a core value.
I realise that how I approach our meal times can literally make the difference between a day we just ‘get through’ and one that I relish.
So I was thrilled this week when a dear friend sent me a surprise in the post. A new cook-book by one of my favourite chefs Yotam Ottolenghi. Oh the joy! This man can make even okra taste amazing! I have so enjoyed delving into its scrumptious pages to plan our meals and discover new combinations of ingredients and new ways of cooking.
What has been really wonderful is that Pickle has revelled in it too. A ‘baby-led-weaner’ she’s always been used to eating whatever we eat and, mercifully, has always been willing to try new tastes and give her honest opinion. The cardamom squash with nigella and pumpkin seeds – a big hit, the lemon infused rice – not so much.
A quick multiple choice for you…
You’re at home with your child(ren) just about to have lunch and your mobile rings… do you
a) answer it, hastily plonking down a plate of food in front of your child thinking “phew, that should keep them busy for a while so I can actually have a half decent conversation”
b) ignore it but take the time while your toddler is occupied eating to rush manically round the kitchen tidying, cleaning and sorting yet another load of washing, eating on the hoof from the chopping board
c) Ignore it and instead sit down and enjoy a relaxed, peaceful lunch with your child(ren)?
Since my son Elyan arrived in our world nearly 5 months ago I know that, depending on the day, I could very easily chose any one of the above options. Before he arrived it would be option c) every time, meals were sacrosanct. Oh how quickly things change…
In the past couple of months things have really slipped. I all too often have to get up from a meal to rock the baby/change the baby/get the baby to sleep. I’ve been in such a mental fog I’ve allowed myself to be distracted, lose focus and be pulled out of the present moment and away from what’s important to me.
Real food takes time, to plan, to prepare and to cook but perhaps more importantly to eat.
My focus this week, and going forward, is to make meal times more meaningful. To strip away those things that get in the way of our enjoyment of food.
Each time we sit down to eat is an opportunity to connect as a family.
Each mouthful is an opportunity to connect with my body.
Each dish I prepare an opportunity to connect with the bounty of nature as I chose wonderful fresh and varied ingredients that we can really savour.
There’s so much more to say about food, but for now my commitment is to once again make nourishing myself, and my family, the priority it deserves to be. I know this undoubtedly leads to a more joyful life and is almost impossible if life isn’t simple enough to devote the time and space to it.
How do you approach food in your home? Is it something to be lovingly savoured, or a chore that gets in the way of things you’d rather be doing?
Do you recognise it as fuel not only for the body but for the spirit too? How are meal times in your home? Frustrating battles with fussy eaters or opportunities to share common passions and experience new things or perhaps simply just BE together?