I have to admit I have been pretty indulgent lately. Glasses of wine with dinner, delicious vanilla bean gelato with blueberry compote for dessert, midday cookie treats. Don’t get me wrong…I enjoy every moment of it. But the time comes when I need some comfort food and for me that means whole foods. Yes the healthy stuff!
When I lived in England in 2003-2004 I experienced cooking in another capacity. Searching for a way to meet people outside of my year long commitment as an au pair and family chef, I started taking yoga classes at the local Sivananda center in Putney, London. Besides enjoying the experience of learning the yoga poses in detail for the first time I also enjoyed my time volunteering within the community.
I offered to help in the kitchen, a choice that allowed me the time to chat with new friends and learn some new tricks of vegetarian trade. Many things were familiar to me – dal lentils (a small pink lentil with a quick cooking time), Braggs amino acids (low sodium substitute for soy sauce), tofu, and many root vegetables. What was new was the array of spices that were either ground fresh or used whole, toasted in a dry pan or gently aromatized with a spoonful of heated oil. Cumin, turmeric, mustard seed, cardamom…the list went on and on. And certain volunteers were masters at the alchemy of spice combining, making simple lentils and fresh greens into a robust and warming soup that heated and nourished me after my hour and half yoga practice.
Tonight I am cooking lentil soup with mushrooms and chard. Right when I tossed the cumin in I was taken back to that kitchen in the Sivananda Center of London. Even though I went the quick route and used ground cumin, the aromatic spice still filled my kitchen with all these “tasteful” memories.
What about you? Is cooking part of your daily practice of healthy living? Do certain smells bring back flavorful memories for you?