There is a simple joy in eating a home cooked meal.
Providing sustenance for oneself is no longer a necessity of survival, but should be taken no less seriously. In a world of drive-thrus, SpoonRocket, and Eat24, cooking at home is seen as more bane than boon. Peeling, prepping, slicing and dicing can feel like climbing Everest after a day’s work. Dishes pile up, the counter gets cluttered, and the stove is covered splatter that will quickly solidify. The fuss isn’t worth the finish. Ah, to be so naive.
There is tranquility in slicing onions. A little mood music, a sip of wine, and a deep breath can chase away any anxieties. Grab a cutting board and the sharpest knife around, and get to relaxing. Peeling the outer layer of an onion is as refreshing as peeling off one’s wardrobe upon returning home for the evening. It removes the crust of the day, revealing the true essence of self. Gently guiding the blade through the onion, layer upon layer falling to the board, separating from those around it — each seeking its independence from one another, yearning to stand apart from its brethren. Those tears building up are tears of joy, as you are bearing witness to something magical. This onion, once buried deep in the soil, has risen to fulfill its destiny of deliciousness.
There is a calmness to peeling carrots. Focus is in limited quantity this time of the night. Brain power is waning. Just breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out, as the peeler seemingly guides itself up and down, stripping away the undesirable. Vibrant color shines with such little effort. Breathe in, breathe out. The mind can just be — a rare occasion in the average American day. There is no rush to get these carrots peeled. Gordon Ramsay isn’t going to pop up and shout about the correct way to peel a carrot. Breathe in, breathe out. All done.
There is excitement in building a sauce, waiting giddily as the flavors meld. After a day of data entry and paper pushing, let creativity flow. A dash of this, a touch of that. Need more acid? Squeeze a lemon into the pot. Lacking a little heat? A pinch of cayenne will get the pallette jumping. Let it simmer, let it reduce, to build layer upon layer of flavor. Flavor so deep, it can’t be escaped.
Continue down the river of creativity when plating the meal. Separating sides and mains into quadrants is for Mom. Follow your heart and plate how you please. Construct a tower of colors and flavors. Mix and match textures and tastes. The tongs are your brush, the plate, your canvas. Create a masterpiece!
Now, take time to admire this glorious creation. Not just for the Instagram likes, but for satisfaction of supplying just sustenance for oneself. Reflect on time well spent chopping and peeling, stirring and tossing, to create a magnificent dish to please all senses. The gratification of that first bite is reason enough to justify the process.
Next time the question of what’s for dinner arises, skip the drive-thru. Don’t click on the SpoonRocket app. Open up a recipe or, better yet, just open up the pantry and create. Eating a meal made by one’s own hands is simply joyous.