The Building Blocks of Cooking Food: Part 6- Soul

Hello Dear Heart!

How is your summer coming along? For me, it has been the essence of wonder. I am in the Upper Midwest for the summer and have been spending quality time along the lake shore. It is simply wondrous how, on the hottest day, a deliciously cool breeze from the lake will pass across your warm skin like a delicate refreshing gauze. The kitchen garden is now thriving, after threatening to strike over the unruly spring conditions it was required to grow under. I can’t blame it, Hon, but everyone (including the temperamental Brussels sprouts) seems to be getting on with it. I think the extra care reassured the weary just enough for them to pull through. I have been trying a few new vegetables this year, including some of the Amaranthus types (otherwise known as Amaranths or dock). These are leafy plants that, when steamed or sautéed, are wonderfully delicious and tender. I think I will move them in permanently.
Dear, this is our last chat about the building blocks of cooking food. This final installment is focused entirely on the food’s essential qualities- its soul. This is a fairly abstract and conceptual aspect of a great food dish, but among the most important. The food’s soul is a reflection of both the tangible (feel, taste, aroma, presentation) and the intangible (character, heritage, craft, care). Our previous chats, Hon, have been focused on the tangible aspects of preparing a food dish. But, you can be technically correct in all aspects but be perfectly sterile in results. The enjoyment of food is beyond the flavor and construction; these are but two dimensions in a three dimensional world.

A food dish that is lovingly created from quality ingredients by the hands of a skilled craftsperson, that is integrated with and an expression of the food’s heritage, is a food that has qualities beyond the physical. It touches emotional tones, is in harmony with cultural constructs and imparts to those consuming the dish with a genuine sense that they are cared for. Certainly, food is consumed for nutrition, which is nothing more than different types of molecules that circulate through your physical body, but it is also nourishment for the soul. A dish with soul makes you feel emotionally warmed, soothed, tended to, important, special, loved. Once enjoyed, a dish with soul makes you feel although you had been hugged. The sense of soul comes from the freshness of ingredients, the care that is taken to maintain control over the flavor and textures, the way a dish honors heritage and the way is has been crafted for your enjoyment. In short, the food’s soul lies in how the food dish makes you feel.

Dear Heart, I have to go tend my vegetables. I do think of you often and have a few more ideas that I cannot wait to share with you. Until the next time we get together for our chat, please take care and my kisses to you!


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