This question was asked of me this week.
What led to this question? As you may or may not know Southern California, where we are right now, has a great blend of American and Mexican food. The climate here is great for growing avocados and unlike the UK you can pick them up fairly cheaply here.
I learnt how to make a really good guacamole while on a cooking day at The Mistley Kitchen, on a Mexican food course, adding finely chopped tomatoes, onions, coriander, chili, and lime. Often I adapt this recipe for the tastes of the people I am making it for, or just because I can.
Yesterday, I made dinner for friends, and made as normal, my spiced up guacamole. D, came in the (her) kitchen and just asked how I stopped it from turning brown. I thought it may be the lemon or lime juices, but she said it would still brown if we weren’t eating it almost straight away. I honestly was stumped and could only come up with the suggestion that it never occured to me that the guacamole would turn brown, therefore it never did.
Another comment about some food I have created for friends while here this trip was how good the food tasted, how O could tell that time and energy was put into the dishes and that came through in the taste. I know I can create the luxury of time when I am cooking, especially when we come away and “work” seems to get done so much quicker as we only have a window of a few hours due to the time difference, and there really is only so much you can do over email. It means there really is more time in the kitchen cooking, more time in the markets, buying produce.
It got me thinking about energy and intention, something I truly believe in. I always say, if you are angry, never cook. That anger seeps into the food. Food has a tendency to burn or taste bitter. If you are really sad, don’t cook. Again, the sadness comes into the food. When you are relaxed, happy, care for and love the people you are cooking for, this really comes through in the food.
We had many conversations around the dinner table this evening, many were about the past. Remembering how it was when our grandparents were around, how the love we felt for them and they for us, was carried in everything they did or cooked for us. How it made us feel safe, secure, loved.
This feeling is something that I always try and intend to add into my food. You could call it my secret ingredient. Even if its just bringing something out of the freezer to reheat as an easy meal, the intent in which you prepare it, serve it, find a creative way to add an extra ingredient, the fact that you have respected the food, loved the process, love and care for the person or people you are cooking for means you can add this secret ingredient to food. It makes the food taste so much better.