If you allow it, your food will speak to you, saying give me this, give me that. Sort this out. Use me, use me. Don’t use me, use them. Let me ripen more fully.
Mindfulness, or awareness, gives us the ability to connect with our food, and to remember the work of every body and every thing that has gone into producing this wonderful item, this wonderful dish. The worms. The microbes. The soil. The sun. The rain. The cold. The warmth. The moon. The workers. The traders. The sellers. The pots and pan makers. The gas and electricity suppliers. The water suppliers. The knowledge held and freely given by my providers. The bloggers that bring me into their homes and constantly teach me and inspire me. Jai to all of you.
I reintroduced myself to my cardamom bush today. Poor thing, it has been neglected for a while. But cardamom, under adversity, keeps on thriving. Yes, it gets a little brown around the edges. A bit droopy. Rather pot bound. But through it all comes the green shoots, the new leaves, the determination to do what it needs to do – produce cardamom leaves. It was glad to see me as I pulled the pot out into an area that gets the rain and promised to tidy it up, even re-pot it over the next week or so.
Cardamom leaves make a wonderful addition to tea. Sort of laurel-like in taste, I love a ginger and cardamom leaf cup of tea. It also adds wonderful flavours to soups, sauces and curries. But it is a tough old leaf, needing to be removed before serving. I have in the past chopped it very very finely and added it to dishes, even fruit salads. It is a great addition, but a lot of work to go through to get it suitable for eating. I think it likes to flavour and does not like to be eaten. It is in flavouring that it does its best work.
As I settle into the established relationship with my kitchen and the food there-in, the cycles of the food preparation, the joy of it all, I remember all of the teas in my cupboard. Teas can be made quickly, without any thought, or can be mindfully made and sweetly enjoyed. Today I settle for Yogi Chai.
Add the Yogi Chai to your list of meditative things to do in your kitchen. Like grinding spices. Stirring risotto. Chopping huge bunches of herbs. Whipping cream by hand. Making ghee. Watching yoghurt drain.