The Art of Meditational Cooking
This is part 1/6 Beginnings of my The Art of Meditational Cooking series. I will publish a new part every week of my personal discovery and creational journey of what I first saw as a means to an end (cooking) but later evolved into my personal meditational practice.
- The Art of Meditational Cooking – Beginnings
- The Art of Meditational Cooking – Food Family
- The Art of Meditational Cooking – Art of Cooking
- The Art of Meditational Cooking – Meditational Roots
- The Art of Meditational Cooking – Food is Information
- The Art of Meditational Cooking – Rediscovering History
The fast growing Chef
I love cooking. It’s really that simple. This love initially started out of a necessity. At that moment in life, I was around 10 years old. My father was working a lot, not being much at home. Shortly after that, he started working abroad, commuting home only on the weekends. At that time my stay-at-home mother also started to work again. As her shifts started early in the morning, way before my brother and I had to go to school, suddenly I was in charge to get things done and going in the mornings.
This meant not only getting ready for school myself but making sure my younger brother did the same. You would think two boys of that age would cause chaos and destruction but we didn’t. Interestingly enough we both grasped – for all the other random things we were doing once I handed back the sceptre to my mother at lunchtime – the importance of all of this. It must have been an underlying feeling or a sense of urgency that made me act like this. As I know I hadn’t had a clue of what exactly was going on, except something big and important. Nonetheless, it kick-started several things at once, one of them forcing me to grow up and to do so fast. Another one as a direct result having to do with food.
Trying to act like a grown up, I started to get interested in cooking. Often I was home from school before my mother. I wanted to be use- and helpful. One way of being just that was making lunch. My first steps were humble, though. I started to bring water to the boil or reheated leftovers, all the while waiting for my mother to come home from work, giving our lunch the finishing touches. It wasn’t much but it was taking some burden from my mother, who had to take care of my brother and me on her own during weekdays.
The little Head Chef in the Making
The transformation process of food and a strong desire to be more helpful at home then slowly transformed into a true hobby and a desire to learn more about cooking. At first, this meant that I was finishing our lunches myself. From cooking pasta or frying French fries to cooking easy things like sausages in a pan. Basically, I ended up cooking food that was difficult to mess up and not a big deal if it was overdone. And even if, it wasn’t such a big deal either. This left me with plenty of room for a margin of error. Rest assured, even if my food nowadays might look different, back then I made ample use of this margin and ruined more than one meal.
On a grateful note: my parents never scolded me for trying and failing. If at all they encouraged my desire to try and learn and let me do my thing. I asked plenty of questions about food and cooking techniques and my mother answered them always to the best of her knowledge. But I wanted more and I wasn’t that big into reading back then. Luckily at that time, German TV provided me with countless hours of alternatives of reading: cooking shows.
The Art of Learning by Watching Cooking Shows
I watched every cooking show there was, no matter the target audience, no matter the subject. The range of TV chefs is really vast.
On the one hand, we have the German-speaking old stagers, like Johann Lafer (king of the Schnitzel), Alfons Schubeck (master of spices), or the upcoming stars of the German-speaking scene, like Tim Mälzer or Sarah Wiener.
And on the other hand we have the TV shows mainly featuring hobby chefs that have the elderly people as a target audience (see “Was die Großmutter noch wusste” running from 1982 to 2006 or “Kochen mit Martina & Moritz” running since 1988 (!)). It didn’t matter to me, I was like a sponge soaking up every bit of information I could get.
The Luxembourgish Chef
Finally, I want to get a little patriotic (which is atypical for me) and highlight Léa Linster. She is a Luxembourgish chef that only made it rather late into the TV shows. This is odd as she is an extraordinary chef. Not only is she one of the few female head chefs out there but also a highly decorated one. In 1987 she received her first star and two years later she won the gold medal at Bocuse d’Or. This made her the first and only woman to date to win this very prestigious international price.
She is a very approachable person and when you encounter her on the streets (which is something that can happen to you easily in Luxembourg – meeting celebrities or the Prime Minister in town is common) or in a restaurant, she’s available for a chat and a selfie. Here I’ve got one with her at one of my favourite hamburger joints, the BeefBar:
This is how I gained a huge amount of theoretical knowledge. Looking back, I guess it’s safe to assume that this and some talent for the art of cooking made my try-and-error adventure mostly a journey on a positive trajectory.
Continue with part two of the story here: The Art of Meditational Cooking – Food Family