2.11.2011

RECIPES FOR LIVING: SALT TO TASTE


We toured our host's farm, admiring fragrant fields of anise, learning about age old methods of cultivating and harvesting--and wondering at the heaps of lively jewelry worn by the women while they work the land. (This has caused some of us to consider upgrading the mulching wardrobe--and I thought Katharine White was out there, in her Ferragamo shoes while she gardened...)

Our host stopped a moment to describe how most people he knew learned to cook. He talked about how you would watch your mother or grandmother mix things, add things, taste things. There is no recipe, he said. No measurement. Salt to taste. You decide.

He said, You watch the cook, and then you do it yourself. If you cannot do it, you were not watching--because you were shown what to do.


That reminds me very much of the nature of slow love. There is no recipe. There is no secret trick that one stumbles upon. This is not a top-down technique. There is no lecture that imparts an answer. Quite the opposite. Slow love involves watching, absorbing, listening; sitting quietly and taking things in--whether the shape of a flower or the shape of a person’s response to a question. Salt to taste.

11 comments:

pve design said...

My Grandmother would serve us Sunday Suppers and never even take a moment to sit down. I think the joy was in creating and seeing us enjoy a home-cooked meal. She had nine children and I am one of seven, so you can imagine everyone loves good Southern cooking. We watched, learned from the best.
pve

Bruce Barone said...

Wonderful!

Cristina said...

I wish it was that simple, "just watch & cook"...!!

Tanu said...

watching your elders and learning the recipes thus is ingrained so much into the Indians that we do not even give it a second thought. but its nice how you have mentioned it... it feels good to see India this way. enjoying every post of yours on your journey in India.

Polly said...

Dominique, I am so enjoying "being with you" on your visit to India. Every post is an inspiration and a lesson. Thank you so much for sharing so generously with us out here in the Land of the Internet.
Best wishes as always, Polly in Salem.

karensandburg said...

beautiful post! a perfect metaphor for life...

some of my fondest food memories are from friends in the past who would prepare the most outrageously delicious indian style food. one friend lived down the hall from me and would often knock on my door inviting me for chai and an elaborately prepared meal (which he did every night!). he was from afghanistan. the other was from pakistan and he lived near our college and we would go to his house at lunch and he too prepared swoon worthy meals for his friends. those spices ... these days i prepare fresh chai every morning with green tea instead of black -- a lovely way to start the day...

My Dog-Eared Pages said...

This is exactly how my Italian grandmother cooked, our Nonna! Never a recipe or a measuring cup. Just cooking full of love, slow love.

mary said...

How interesting. I was taught to cook by following a recipe to the letter; but that's not how I cook--I think that I must be a throw back to a more creative time. My mentor has been enforcing upon me the blessing of silence and observation. It has not been been an easy road to passivity and allowing; I'm very much a work in process. Your photos are filled with life, thank you.

Karena said...

I am a toss and and taste cook...it has always been that way!

xoxo
Karena
Art by Karena

Dona M said...

This is a reminder to me of a recurring thought of late. Women's history in the kitchen making the food that keeps the family alive is a beautiful tradition and most worthy work.

Anita Singh Soin said...

A Taste of India by Madhur Jaffrey is such a book with recipes from friends and family. She is a distant cousin of my dad.