I believe that ones eating habits tells a great deal about an individual. Suffering from yet another bout of insomnia the other night, I sat there in bed, unable to take a break from my ever-relentless racing thoughts. My thoughts went through every possible topic I could possibly have conceived of, and then some.
At one point, I noticed that I was smiling widely and almost laughing out loud during one specific “thought-stream”. Yes, of course it involved food.
It began when I began reminiscing about a friend of mine, whom I had met while doing an internship at a multilateral organisation in Washington D.C. some time ago. Someone had sent me a mail insisting that I meet this woman, as we seemed to have had several things in common.
Within minutes of our meeting, we were exchanging stories and discovered that we had 1. attended the same primary school
- that our fathers are often mistaken for one another as they held similar posts in the diplomatic core
- Both had similar boyfriend-drama with German men hmmmm
- Both went to the same Uni in Canada ( I went for a term)
- 5. Both were completing of doctoral studies a the same uni ( was just starting)
- Both LOVE food!!!
Needless-to say, this meeting was the beginning of a very close sisterly friendship which I cherish deeply.
As our relationship evolved, however, I also began to notice terribly striking differences between us. One of these gaping differences involves the manner in which we both approach food. As far as I am concerned, M. has the most interesting eating habits I have ever seen in anyone.
I remember going over to her house and watching her prepare her lunch, and being captivated by the even her preparation strategy.
Watching her eat, was like being in a meditation session. M. would always examine her food thoroughly before placing it into her mouth. She would, for example, hold the sandwich in her hands and examine it from side to side, top, bottom and eventually something would click and tell that its OK to take a bite, and she would would. She always took small bites and chewed slowly, as if she was clearly savoring each bite, and honouring each and every single ingredient within that sandwich. Regardless of how full I was when watching her eat, this mere spectacle always made me desperately hungry.
While this meditative culinary experience was occurring, I began to notice that she would always do this “thing” with her feet, of course this all depended on exactly how she was seated. If she was sitting on a chair that was high enough to lift her legs off the ground, then they would do a light swing and dangle them a bit, as if keeping rhythm to the song of her culinary creation.
If she was sitting on a regular chair she would stretch her legs out and her feet would just move, as if dancing to the composition of her meal. If it was hot and she was wearing sandals I would see her toes wiggle.
She has this wonderful way of making any meal seem like a moment of sheer bliss and one could just tell from the look in her eyes, from the sure-but-slow bites into her meal that she was thoroughly enjoying the ceremony at-hand.
I always admired that.
Coupled with that meditative act, she possesses an admirable and enviable skill of willpower when it came to food.
The extent to which she is able to excerzise this will power is far and beyond anything than I am capable of doing.
She always knows when it is enough-when it is time to stop-when that moment of satisfaction is over and its time to move on.
I, on the other hand, am always pushing the limits, testing new boundaries...to the point of no return and often feeling sick to the stomach. M. certainly has a healthy, calm, sensical attitude towards eating, that I can only dream of attaining. Yes, and all that despite the fact that she loves food just as much as I do!
I called her via skype sometime ago and she told about a batch of oatmeal cookies that she had baked some days before. N.B, yes, I said some days before! She spoke about how amazing her cookies had turned out, perfectly chewy and moist, tasted to perfection.
She showed them to me via skype video and they did indeed look delectable! I quite frankly could not understand how they could possibly have lasted so long. As she showed them to me, she mentioned how hungry she was and could very well do with one. I was like “then eat one, or three... or all!”
She looked at the cookie, pondered, and decided that she will wait to eat the cookie until after her dinner.
Saving?! Dinner?! After?! Those three words, I simply could not comprehend in this context?!
No, she had planned on eating ONE after her meal. Not before. I looked at her and just nodded my head...because I sure as hell would not be doing that. Those cookies would have been soooooo gone! But alas....I admire the willpower..the control and the poise with which my friend is able to savour her food.
As I wondered if this skill and my utmost lack thereof, had any spill-over effects into our lives in general...it became obvious that this was clearly the reflection of a very dominant character trait.
In my pursuit towards instant gratification, and whimsical (often) impulsive action, I perhaps loose out on soo sooo much. Perhaps I dont even enjoy things to the same degree as my more self-contained friend.
Upon this realisation, I decided the following morning to sign up for meditation classes. You know, something to give me a bit more peace of mind, serenity-something to calm my impulses. And maybe, just maybe I, too, can turn my culinary experiences into meditative practices, savouring, fully engaging and becoming one with my meal!
Chewy Oatmeal Cookies (Cooks Illustrated)
- 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 t. baking powder
- 1/2 t. salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup of dark brown sugar
- 1 cup of granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1/4 cup of shredded coconut (or nuts if desired)
- 1/2 cups of raisins (optional)
- Adjust over racks to upper- and lower-middle positions; heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl.
- Beat butter and sugar together using hand or stand mixer at medium speed until it is creamy and fluffy (about 3 minutes)
- Add the eggs one at a time and then the vanilla and beat until fully incorporated.
- Stir in the dry ingredients (flour, soda, salt) into the butter mixture and mix with a rubber spatular or spoon until just combined.
- Add the oats and mix until just combined.
- Roll dough into balls about 2 inches in diameter.
- Bake the cookies for about 15-20 mintues until they begin to turn golden brown in colour, The edges should have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will look as if they are still raw and wet, but this is ok).
- Cool the cookies on baking rack.
- Eat and enjoy!
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