Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Handle on Cooking

Some people like to paint pictures, or do gardening, or build a boat in the basement. Other people get a tremendous pleasure out of the kitchen, because cooking is just as creative and imaginative an activity as drawing, or wood carving, or music.
Julia Child

I grew up on meat and potatoes cooking. It wasn't until college and graduate school that I was introduced to the diversity of culinary arts. When I moved to the East Coast soon after graduate school, I found myself in Providence RI working in a mental health unit for a home care company. Many of my clients were elderly females and part of our job was to ensure that they were both mentally and physically recovering from illnesses. There was a mix of Italian, Sicilian, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Portuguese and other cultures that I encountered. The one thing they had in common was they would cook a meal and have it ready for us when we came to visit as they felt better. At first being a young clinician I was reluctant to eat as I felt it would damage the "therapeutic relationship". A much more experienced psychiatric nurse who was quite blunt told me essentially to get my nose out of my studies and into real life. That I would have a better relationship for having a meal with them, not to mention it was an insult not to accept the hospitality. Better advise I have never been given. Not only did I learn more about them and was better able to help them, but they taught me about the food of their culture and how to prepare it. One of these days in memory to their teaching, I'm going to have to create a workshop entitled, "The Psychotherapy of Cooking".

As I mentioned last post the fires have created horrendous air and we were advised to stay inside, so I traveled through my cookbooks and got back to cooking (something that I let slide between the surgery and my healing). I produced as set of meals inspired through Italy, Thailand, Mexico and the American West, much to the delight of my roommate. I've decided to try and cook a group of meals now every weekend that I have available to me, as I find when I'm working my 32 hours in 3 days, I don't have as much energy to cook. Two cookbooks I've decided to revisit and cook out off for the next few weeks are "Potager" and "Firehouse Food". Both have the rustic "soul food" that I love to cook. And it definitely satisfies my creative urges.

A continued sharing of something from Jesse Cook's latest, "Frontiers" I was listening to it as I cooked. He had a fantastic cover of an classic of Bob Dylan's, It Ain't Me Babe.

Jesse Cook & Melissa McClelland, "It Ain't Me Babe":


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