I’m originally from Bombay, transplanted to California. Growing up in India and then moving halfway across the world, I have seen my share up ups and downs in life. I have had laughter, frustration, tears, wonder… throughout it all, I have found a place of warmth and comfort, a place where I can express myself fully.
As a child I would watch my Maa, grandmas and aunts stir away and chop away in the kitchen, but I never asked them to teach me. I would just watch for hours, soaking it all in. I never understood at that time why I loved the kitchen so much or why it was the favorite corner of the house for me. As I grew up I never thought of cooking as a stress buster or a passion. I was too occupied with being defiant and a rebel, and bent rules to my own understanding. I did the same with cooking.
One day it happened — I still don’t know why or how — but I started looking at cooking differently. I began thinking about how cooking was scientific, and yet also an artistic expression — intense yet at the same time very healing. Cooking is a journey. In no time I was locked onto cooking, reading voraciously recipes and their history, and exploring new ingredients and combinations I had never heard of before.
Cooking healed me and I did not even realize it. It was so natural because creation is the opposite of destruction, and in every low time you find a part of your self broken and in need of lifting up. What you wait for in that limbo is to find the strength and momentum to get up and create, restore, and build up that portion of you that broke. Just like a procedure or surgery fixing a part of you; just like I watch my son build those lego blocks; just like molding a piece of clay that broke under too much pressure, you wait for that one thing that can put you back to shape. I discovered that cooking did that for me. A good result and a fair product reminds me that I am whole again.
There could be a million reasons why cooking is healing. It is quite indulgent, requires a lot of precision and takes so much focusing that you forget all the negative. Have you ever cooked in bulk? I once made biryani for 40 people, Vegetarian and Non Vegetarian. It was a painful process … chopping a bag full of onions, the enormous amount of meat and vegetables, getting just the right mixture of spices… I did this because I needed a task larger than I had ever done. I knew it was physically strenuous and on top of that I was trying a new recipe. What was I thinking??!! But when I saw the end result I realized how relaxing it felt to just stand there embracing the warmth filled in the kitchen, smelling the freshly made food that I had created. It was a success. I had achieved something on the inside, found a place of beauty — and that represented itself on the outside.
A good friend once told me “Natasha you are crazy in the kitchen and this does not look like stress relief!” I agree that on the outside it may look a touch crazy. Things do sometimes get a little out of hand! But the final result, that moment when the creation has become manifest, and you see the results of your labor — that is soothing, healing, and makes me feel whole. The joy of sharing a completed meal with loved ones, and seeing something that I created, that started out only as a dream or an idea and made it all the way to their plates… that is something truly magickal, something healing… something that just makes the world feel right.
So sometimes madness happens in the kitchen and yet it’s soothing in its own mysterious way. People say before every storm there is a calmness but from where I see it… this is life on Earth.
The other thing that makes me love cooking is the the colors of the ingredients: vibrant fresh produce, herbs and spices, fresh ingredients that keep me connected to the earth element; the heat of the stoves keeps me connected to fire element; the water keeps me connected emotionally; when I see everything and take a deep breath that keeps me connected to the air element …..and then the space my soul is in (my body ) feels good.
Cooking is also that time when I am very indulgent in music — they sort of go together for me. I have noticed that music and my cooking evokes memories and visions which in themselves have healing powers. In the end I know I have healed and the people I shared my food with have had some healing too — even if its just from a bad day.
Not everybody likes to cook. Some people like to run, paint, write and so on… if that truly heals you then that is it! For myself, I have found that cooking is my sanctuary, where I work my creativity and magick. There is a complete harmony of all the senses and elements, and a creative expression that fulfills me.
This is my art, my passion. Welcome.
— Nutssy (@nutssys on twitter)
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