This last one was very difficult. It wiped me out for a full week. I'm just now feeling back on my feet.
It's reported that Gurdjieff once said that cooking was not a branch of medicine; rather, medicine was a branch of cooking.
Tonight, I made an extra effort to make a meaningful, worthwhile meal: homemade pesto with basil straight from the garden, and veal Parmesan. I prepared everything myself from scratch. Frankly, the food tasted better -- much better -- than just about anything I've eaten in the past month, much of which was exotic food prepared by chefs at five-star restaurants.
This got me to thinking about why it is that food we prepare ourselves tastes better to us. I think this actually goes deep into the question of what we are as beings, and how impressions enter us.
Food that is prepared by other people always gets whisked in front of us more or less as a surprise. We may read the words on the menu, but that hardly gives the body any understanding of what it is about to consume. If we take ingredients and spend an hour or more carefully preparing them, the organism gets a chance to see exactly what it is that it is about to partake of. On our gross physical level -- the level of what we call "intelligence," which is not really that intelligent at all -- we are unable to understand what is going on there, but the body, which has its own mind and its own ability to understand things, including things on the chemical level (using instinctive center, which also has an exquisitely detailed and finely constructed intelligence) knows exactly what is happening.
As we prepare food, a molecular series of events begins to take place, in which the sight, touch, and smell of each ingredient is evaluated on deep -- what we could call subliminal -- levels. As this takes place, the entire body, the salivary glands, the muscles in the mouth, the stomach, the rest of the digestive system -- in fact, all the cells in the body -- are carefully preparing for what is about to be eaten.
The preparation of the food is also a preparation of the body for the food -- a preparation that doesn't take place if we aren't preparing the food ourselves.
So something quite critical takes place here, when we prepare our own food. The food tastes better, and is more satisfying, because we are more prepared for it, as it is prepared for us. It is the impressions -- the finer vibrations of everything that goes into cooking -- that helps set the stage for that. We are better able to digest the food, because our body has prepared for it better. So the act of cooking itself is actually part of what it means to eat healthy food.
This means, in essence, that if we go into an organic food store to buy the best possible prepared foods, and pay careful attention to eating a well-balanced diet, we still may not be getting the right nutrition at all! Half of healthy eating is in the preparation of food. Prepackaged foods, meals prepared by others and then whisked in front of us, are depriving us of essential impressions that are actually part of the digestive process.
This may go a long way towards explaining why the modern world has so many food issues.
This may sound theoretical, but there's nothing theoretical about it. Go out a few times and prepare food carefully for yourself, then sit down and observe your impression as you eat it. Then go out and order a fine meal at some restaurant, and see how it is. I daresay you may sense a qualitative difference. The food you cook at home may be quite ordinary in comparison to the restaurant meal, but I think you are going to see that it actually tastes better and is more satisfying.
That is, at any rate, my experience. There is an essence--satisfaction in the eating of food I make myself that I rarely, if ever, get from food prepared for me.
This question of preparation is essential in all work. If we want to see how we are, if we wish to take in meaningful impressions and have them fall deeper inside of us, preparation is absolutely required.
We can't digest impressions properly if we are not prepared to receive them.
May the living Light of Christ discover us.