The following list on centered dining comes from a book that I turn to almost daily now. Its not really a kitchen reference guide in the traditional sense of the word, but its certainly a guide for my own food practice. I thought to share it now, as we all begin to set tables for our loved ones, hosting a plethora of holiday parties and breaking bread with family.
Being a ‘good cook” is only one element to putting a great dinner on the table. There are several other factors that can contribute to a positive dining experience:
1. Ingredients. Use organic, fresh, whole foods with no additives, artificial ingredients, or processing.
2. Attitude. The ‘secret’ ingredient of the best meals is your own loving energy.
3. Variety. Vary cooking methods: sauteing, steaming, baking, broiling, stir frying, and roasting. Experiment with ethnic dishes, ingredients, and seasonings.
4. Color: Nature’s color palette ranges from creamy white mushrooms to deep purple eggplant, and includes vivid oranges, soothing greens, and vibrant reds.
5. Presentation. Learn how to cut vegetables in different ways. Arrange plates esthetically. Consult food magazines, cookbooks and fine restaurants for ideas.
6. Proper tableware. Use a variety of attractive glass and ceramic bowls and plates. Avoid using plastic or metal containers, as they may react with foods.
7. Garnishes. A subtle dusting of spices, a sprinkle of parsley, some minced scallions, or chopped nuts can add color contrast and flavor enhancement.
8. Quality cookware. Stainless steel, cast iron, and earthenware pots and pans are best.
9. Cleanliness. Keep a clean, well organized kitchen, use well washed ingredients and set your table with pride.
10. Table decor. Add a special touch to the ambiance in your dining area with fresh flowers, candles, good table linens.
11. Environment. Remove styrofoam and any toxic materials from your kitchen. use only filtered or bottled water for washing ingredients and for cooking.
12. Gratitude and good attitude. Express gratitude at meals with a moment of silence, a prayer, or a food blessing. Have pleasant conversations and avoid arguments, worries, and concerns.
This is such a simple and essential list. In twelve points it serves as a reminder of the whole picture that is the conscious cooking and eating experience. I look at this list and have to practice all the time. I miss many, forget, rush, skip over… all because I tend to slip into autopilot often. This is especially true as a person that works from home. Somethings, as I have shared before, if I’m deep into a project, I’ll look up at the clock, and find that 8 hours have passed and I haven’t eaten a thing! This of course creates situations where I dash to the kitchen and grab the first thing I see.
Back to my food practice. Again and again and again. This is why I love this list so. I have it dogeared in the book, and come back to it often.