Cooking is a series of messes – the collection of ingredients spread across the counter; the mound of measuring cups, stirring utensils, and tasting spoons; the mass of food scraps that results from a recipe from scratch; and oh the amount of dishes to clean after.
In the creation of these various messes, wholeness emerges. The journey from a pantry hodge-podge becomes (ideally) a nourishing meal. This transformation, this wonderful conversion in the kitchen, doesn’t just mean a nourished belly at meal time. For me it usually means a nourished soul as well.
I am typically able to work through one of my many internal messes as I make my way through a recipe. Maybe it was a situation at work that I haven’t gotten a handle on, or maybe it’s general anxiety about my to-do list, but something about the chopping, stirring and sizzling helps to slow down my racing mind. It’s almost like the kitchen is the one place where the multi-tasking makes sense and the recipe guides me from start to finish in a way that most endeavors can’t or won’t flow during a typically work day.
It’s clearly not just the preparation, but the sharing that feels like it’s recharging my batteries: the sharing of the prep activities with my husband, the dear friend that is joining us for a meal, the leftovers that I give to my brother. Each kitchen mess has the potential for renewal of my mind and deepening of my relationships. If that’s not some sort of alchemy, I don’t know what is.