#TheSimpleThings : Hummus

Hummus2

… or houmous … or hummous (if you are taking a wild orthographical stab)…

I’ve just returned from holidays; four weeks of self-satisfying and socially-acceptable selfishness where the ‘what’, ‘when’ and ‘where’ were mine alone to decide.

Holidays always involve a supermarket shop (because, I believe that the supermarket is a unique place that offers the visitor a rare insight into the non-visitor’s everyday)

Holidays always involve some sort of food discovery.

Last time it was France : madeleine …

The madeleine is simple perfection where success relies on knowledge and patience.

I read the history and the poetry and shopped for conventional wisdoms; I ate wholes and halves and crumbs and asked questions of kitchens and salons and bistrots ; I collated recipes and bought moulds and started exploring …

But I have not yet read Proust in the original French; and I believe that any exploration of the madeleine should involve a little Proust.

No comments necessary.

… laughing …

It’s a self-imposed bar.

… laughing …

And so, my musings on the alchemy of a perfect madeleine have been shelved … for the time being.

There is no Proust-shaped equivalent in the history of hummus … that I know of.

The exploration has a realistically-located end point.

This time – food discovery was Jordan : hummus. And I ate ladle, spoon and bowl-fuls; from tetrapacks, Lonely Planet-identified “Places to Eat” and self-identified holes in the wall …

And it turns out that good hummus, really good hummus, is quite the difficult concoction to achieve; contrary to better and common judgment.

It requires two things … craft and attentiveness.

In other words #TheSimpleThings …

In other words it was the perfect subject for exploration …

 

 

Why is it SO hard to find …

RosePink

… something that I LOVE doing?

Yes, the capitals were required.

Yes, the frustration is real.

I want to work in the agricultural / food sector … or back in the wine sector …

These are the elements that make me smile.

I want to connect French and beauty and food and wine and writing and travelling and intelligent, thought-provoking, energy-giving conversation and like minds and public speaking and innovation and work with purpose and blank sheets of paper and strategising and leading …

with a good income …

I want to muse and mull and develop and pilot.

I want to connect dots.

… for an idea that I am inspired by …

 

…and in the trying to find this something, this thing  to ‘love’, this thing that will feed my soul … I am … nowhere …

… or, rather, I am in a maze of mirrors- staring at my own reflection … trying to decide whether there’s a hidden door or next step forward or whether retracing my path is a better course …

Everyone talks about their ‘passion’ … very few talk about how hard it was to identify.

 

Joy in the shared table

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is not so much a hierarchy as a two tiered sponge cake …

The physiological needs – food, water, shelter – on which all other needs rely; the base and always the thicker twin of any cut sponge.

Self-actualisation; the top and invariably the more fragile, threatening to break until safely set in place.

And then the middle cream and jam; with time and ambient temperature, a fruit-punctuated mousse – those deficiency needs of Maslow’s: safety (personal, financial and health), love/belonging (friendship, family and intimacy) and esteem (respect from others and self).

New theories sensing that none are more, or less, important, that the other.

And as I was looking down at the needs – whether offered as the traditional pyramid or the less-traditional sponge – I was reminded of the value of a shared table; how a shared table could meet all of these needs, or assist in the meeting if all of these needs.

Food is such a large part of my life – but the majority of my meals are eaten alone …

… what, then, the impacts?

 

 

 

A defined ‘perfect’ and making space

Over the last few days I have been striving for an answer … sitting, thinking, mulling, pondering, musing, speculating, cogitating, evaluating, reasoning, rationalising, brooding, stewing … digging … tangling … muddying … sticking …

My question – “What do I want to do … with this blog?”

This question mirrors a second one that replaces “this blog” with “my life”; but that’s for later.

Do I want to investigate ethical, delicious, ‘well’-infusing eating? Do I want to concentrate on exploring what brings ‘joy’ in life? Do I want to empower and highlight women? Do I want to incorporate more beauty into my own life? Do I want to offer my creativity an outlet? Do I want to connect, and connect with, like-minds through writing? Do I want to spark change? Do I want to create value?

Yes.

Yes x 8.

… and now … how …

?

And I sat down again … and again … and felt frustration rise again … and again …

And before, Reader, you think that there’s going to be an answer at the end of this particular entry – let me disabuse you of this possibility now – I still have no idea. Feel free to continue … or leave me here …

But tonight I went to yoga; a class that I can’t usually arrive at in time.

5pm – a work-obligated impossibility.

But tonight I was home – and was pulled towards the unknown – teacher and class at the Gertrude Street Yoga Centre.

I am attracted by the unknown … but not to the unknown … an interesting dichotomy.

I’m not sure if I’ve written about this before, but I  have never really liked yoga.

#Confession

I was first introduced at a ‘School’ of yoga – what seems like an aeon ago. I was in one of the first formative years of University, a gym-goer (to lose weight) and looking for something to feed soul as well as body. I decided that yoga was it.

Yoga was not it.

I am a perfectionist by nature. I do things, I do them well. This often stops me from beginning – but it always pushes me to the end, once begun.

This school taught ‘correct’ posture, ‘correct’ breath, ‘correct’ mind emptiness. It gave me an excellent grounding in yoga practice that assists me still – even in the class of today.  But it also gave me something to strive for …

… shoulders a touch further back. Hips a touch squarer. Press palms into the mat, knuckles down. Hips higher. Neck an elongation of the spine … straighter … longer … Heels down. Chest out.

There was a defined ‘perfect’.

Quite the stressor.

And so my long, often stressful, relationship\. I was attracted to the idea of fluid movement, extended body, mind flow … but could never quite ‘accomplish’ it …

But tonight there was a question asked with every pose “Does it feel comfortable?” and the ideas of ‘making space’ and ‘taking space’ that resonated.

I realised that each posture is a way of filling my space. Taking up space. Elongating. Extending. Feeling every muscle …

And I realised that in each posture, comfort was the most important element – but ‘comfort’ in my own skin. ‘Perfect’ was nothing other than that which I …

in the ‘me, my self, I’ /no-one else / just me, context …

feel.

Some days, I know that I want to curl, to hug, to be as small as I can be … to feel as little as possible … and those days I allow my self from time to time … but I also know that they aren’t good for me long term …

And today, I wanted to create my own space – to breathe through movement and to feel every muscle; to let go.

So today – I did.

And today, I ended an hour feeling like molten gold – golden-hued fluidity, enduring, assured that where I was and how I was is perfect.

So – in letting go – I found what I was looking for in my yoga practice. In letting go, I found the sensation that had attracted me in the first place.

And in relation to the blog – and, indeed, my life, I haven’t quite worked out how I can do all of the above … but I do have more faith that an answer will present itself if I stop searching for it and simply make space for it to arrive.

Tadasana

 

 

 

 

 

 

What ‘food’ is … for me

Gut feel.

Creativity + Artistry + Experimentation.

Colour + Texture + Flavour …

ColoursofFood2

… sensory explosion.

 

A shared experience …

… a connector.

A bookmark for memories.

 

 

A vehicle to show love …

to give comfort …

… pleasure.

 

Passion …

commitment.

Risk + reward.

 

Unadulterated.

Honest.

Simple …

… and complex.

 

A way of moving through cacophony and into flow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is no joy is not licking

On the 4th of January, I started an 8-week program designed to reduce and then eliminate all sugar from life … no refined sugar, honey, maple syrup as a first step and then no sweetness of any kind including fruit as the next …

“I Quit Sugar” …

… which, on typing the title strikes me as grammatical insouciance verging on disrespect … … tangent …

My day-to-day contains very little sugar – I’ve done IQS before and the overarching habits stuck.

But I am super conscious of how I feel in the skin into which I was born as well as that in which I choose to clothe myself. I am also highly aware of my tendency to snack more than I should, to eat less than I should and do both more irregularly that I care to …

… and to overthink all of the above.

A 2-month food routine offered a solution that solved all of the above with brain computation optional.

Breakfast – particularised  :  Lunch – last night’s dinner  :  Dinner – detailed.

Easy.

… unless there is office-requested baking to be done.

ChocolateCake

Margaret Fulton’s (fail safe) Sour Cream Chocolate cake.

Rich, but not too. Light, but not too. Sweet, but not too.

Perfect, precisely.

It was 8pm when the chocolate was melted with a stream of still-steaming water,  8pm when the scent of cacao first wafted into my (super sensitive) olfactory system, 8pm when I was acutely aware of the richness offered by a cocoa, fat, sugar emulsion.

10 minutes later, the KitchenAid was creaming butter with sugar and I realised how much I craved sweetness – not just the taste, but sweetness in life … hugs and kisses and spontaneous laughter; swings in parks and spatula licking.

Spatula-licking gives such satisfaction – such joy. Feeling the still-crystallised sugar on tongue-tip and tasting the creamy, light-as-air sweetness of the whipped beginnings of a cake.

There is something deliciously illicit about the action …

… and the smell and imagined taste enticed my brain like mythical nymphs of the classics.

But I didn’t. No sugar. None. Not a crystal.

The stoic addition of three yolks. The stiff beating of an equal number of whites.

Shoulders tense. Stress rising. Concentration wavering.

I added melted chocolate in a steady stream. Again, the spatula, hugging the sides of the bowl, the final droplets submitting to gravity.

Rising desire … caving to distraction of Kombucha fizz. Skolled.

I added flour … and mixed in the two thirds of sour cream. I folded in the air of egg white and created the perfectly toned batter.

There was little love but an all-consuming desire to taste; to leave an index-finger strip across the mixture. There was little care, but a need to finish before the desire was consummated.

The pillowy-plop of batter dropping onto tin, and the resolute mind of the batter-dropper.

And those last streaks of batter in bowl. The ones crying for a finger to capture or tongue to lick. The ones that I would hope that my Mother would leave; the ones that my grandmother did leave.

The chocolate batter of childhood – made in family kitchens, with shared understandings, complicit spatula sneaking and bowl licking. The innocent joys …

And the chocolate batter of adulthood – made in the quiet, with self-imposed rules, calories. The ‘shoulds’ ruling the ‘wants’.

There is no joy in not licking.

 

What brings me joy #1

I find joy in cooking.

I find joy in a shared table; dinner with generous bowls.

I find joy in food, experimenting with flavour and texture.

 

Food, for me, brings joy.

Sharing food, for me, brings joy.

Cooking, for me, offers a moment where all five senses are humming and I am immersed.

 

There is a line – at the end of the movie of Anne of Green Gables … “I’ve been looking for my ideals outside of myself”

Maybe I’ve been looking for my joy outside of myself.

I’ve always thought that I should strive, that there’s value in that which is difficult … but what if there’s value in that which is enjoyable – what if I pursued that?

What would happen if I allowed myself to love cooking and eating and sharing and playing; if I let go …

What would happen if I dismissed the small voice that says “everyone and their dog loves cooking / food / writing /permutations of all – what more could you add” and floated downstream with the idea …