Redefining Nutrition, a class that just ended for me, took me back to culinary school and reminded me why I went to Natural Gourmet Institute to begin with. I was seeking something more in food because I knew there was more to it, more underlying all the nutrients we’re so overly concerned with. Yes, I'm talking about nourishment again.
Kitchen Table Wisdom by Rachel Naomi Remen, MD, was one of our texts and it is a strikingly beautiful book. This is just one of those very human books that makes you feel connected because you too have felt hope and loss, joy and devastation, ennui and inspiration. We were asked to contemplate and write about our spiritual connection to food and what does that even mean? If you know me, you know that that kind of stuff is totally up my alley, so I was surprised when I was more drawn to contemplate and write about stories and how they connect and nourish us.
The very thought brought me to my grandmother’s kitchen table. The stories she’d told that took us from Colombia to New York, Israel to Egypt, Cyprus to Syria. I’d thought about the stories I’d heard in between on my own travels, around pub tables, kitchen tables, classroom tables. Stories from new friends from Italy, Serbia, Sweden, the USA, from teachers who were German, Persian, Scottish, other grandmothers who were Romanian, Thai, Austrian. At first, you feel so caught up in a story and you focus on the differences in generations and in cultures. But then, you see the similarities; the feeling of love at first sight, exhilaration at taking a step into the unknown, doubt, anxiety and wonder about how we all fit into this great cosmic story.
When I learned about the art of listening, somewhere in between, all these stories began to unfold once again within me. I was struck by just how powerful true listening was. I was also struck by how little we actually listen, how we aren’t exactly taught how to listen with heart. Mostly we’re thinking about what we can say next, or interrupt to speak our own mind. But, the truth is, if you’re intently listening then the speaker begins to speak with heart. Their truth pours out and this act creates a lasting connection. This type of communication takes a lot of time and energy (keeping quiet and listening, without judgment or thinking of your to-do list can be very challenging) but it is incredibly powerful.
It is no surprise that what mesmerized me, captivated me and nourished me, was connection. It’s the life in each story, the reason a story longs to be told, that nourishes us. It’s the spark we feel when we connect. It connects us to our past as well as to each other. It weaves us together into the fabric of humanity and reminds us that in this mystery of life and death, we are not actually alone. It’s comforting to truly listen to a story and comforting to tell one, to be truly listened to. And it is most certainly comforting to know that we are alive together, experiencing a moment in life TOGETHER. For this moment, for this shared story we connect. And isn’t that what we all crave the most? Isn’t that what nourishes us from within? So, what’s your story and who have you shared it with? What’s the last story you heard, around a kitchen table perhaps, that moved you?
This class ended a few weeks ago and I am now steeped in the world of macronutrients. It is just as fascinating. But, to celebrate stories and their capacity for nourishment I bring you a recipe for our favorite Herby Pesto. Because schools are mostly nut-free, this pesto is also (optionally) nut-free. If you have Anise Loves GREEN Food, you'll recognize some similarities in this one. It's just as delicious in pasta as it is as a dip, or if you're like my daughters, you can enjoy it right off the spoon, too.
I will be spending the next month going through recipe submissions, working on the RED book, and wrapping up my first year of grad school. I’m also putting together a resource page for the site, so if you’ve got great recommendations for anything from food and/or nutrition services, classes, blogs, books, kitchen equipment, do let me know so I can share them back with everyone.
I’ve got some exciting things on the horizon for the coming fall, but first let’s all enjoy summer, eat some fabulous food, make some great memories, and share those wonderful stories. Till next time, family. In good health, Nathalie