Saturday 16 August 2014

Nourishment for the soul: Cooking with what you've got

"Nothing can survive without food. Everything we consume acts either to heal us or to poison us. We tend to think of nourishment only as what we take in through our mouths, but what we consume with our eyes, our ears, our noses, our tongues and our bodies is also food. The conversations going on around us, and those we are participating in, are also food. Are we consuming and creating the kind of food that is healthy for us and helps us to grow? When we say something that nourishes us and uplifts the people around us, we are feeding love and compassion. When we speak and act in a way that causes tension and anger, we are nourishing violence and suffering. We often ingest toxic communication from those around us and from what we watch and read. Are we ingesting things that grow our understanding and compassion? If so, that's good food." 
Thich Nhat Hahn

Why am I quoting a buddhist? Why am I talking about nourishment beyond food on a food blog? For the same reasons that none of my posts are solely about food. This week was a difficult week. This week will now be known worldwide now as Robin William's tribute week and that tragic incident has everything to do with nourishment beyond food.

Food makes me laugh, makes me smile, gives me opportunities to share with friends and family. Food creates memories of days off, nights in, get-togethers, dates, birthdays and days in the sun. Food reminds me of tastes, smells, sights and feelings around life. Life moving, life-giving, life-loving. Food and the creativity around it nourishes my soul. Food represents so many joyful aspects of love and health and happiness combined for me. I am lucky. I found one major thing in my life that not only brings me joy but also connects and interconnects with conversations, thoughts, community, understanding, compassion and laughter in other areas of my life that before all that food love, was deeply neglected.

Before I found and focused on the nourishment/food in my life that Thich Nhat Hahn writes about, I was hungry. Hungry for love, community, compassion, understanding, fullness, calm, contentment and passion. I was hungry because I was depressed and not only that, I was afraid to admit it to myself, let alone anyone else. Depression is not akin to a physical illness where you heal and you look at the scar or scab or bruise and remember momentarily what the pain felt like and feel a sense of relief and gratitude that it is completely healed. Depression is an unspoken, unexplained wound that heals and then infects again. There is no wound to stare at. You just stare at the mirror and hope that what you're looking at this morning will stay (when your soul is nourished) or go away (when your soul is starved).

For years, I struggled to keep my depression hidden until the malnourished part of my being was physically, mentally, emotionally and personally, far too obvious to hide. It then began to infect every part of my life; the exact pattern I had been trying so desperately to stop.

I am proud and thankful to say that bit by bit, I nourished myself back to help. I focused on myself, with the help of friends and family, and learnt to nourish myself. It started with food. Instead of feeding the problem with meaningless food to keep me ticking over, I focused on seasonal, wild, local food and in doing so, paradoxically found my passion: Food and sharing that love for food. By acknowledging my depression, I awoke my passion for food and from that a zest for life materialized that before had remained hidden in doubt.

This blog is of course about food but in a week where a beautifully talented man and unique individual such as Robin Williams felt there was no space for him, I can hardly be authentic and ignore what made me start this blog in the first place. I learnt how to nourish my soul through food and felt that even if I struggled with recipes, deadlines and confidence after such prolonged depression, my love for food and sharing that love with others would always make this blog something I am proud of.

This week, I am dedicating my blog to the nourishment of the soul through food. I went to the farmer's market in the Organic Co-op in Newmarket and the Temple Bar Farmer's market and bought delicious, fresh, colorful, local ingredients. This week, I am going to share recipes each day on nourishing your soul with fresh recipes each day, all based on one local food shop and a cupboard of basics. The recipes are colorful, easy, creative and contain ingredients known to improve your mood. It's a week dedicated to helping you look after yourself. Some food for the soul for you.

First recipe is tomorrow so make sure to check in in the evening.

Find your food for the soul. Treasure it and share it all around. I hope that in sharing with the world wide web, however few readers I have, that it will give even one person the confidence to speak out about their own depression.

This post is dedicated to Robin Williams, his family and sufferers near and far of depression. If you wish to help or are looking for help, check out these wonderful organizations:

Pieta House:
Heads Up:

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