In a day when so much of our food is delivered to us pre-cut, pre-made, pre-cooked, I would argue that we’re neglecting ourselves. A meal can be a full-on amusement park of an experience if we let it be, especially when you process your food by hand.
Think of a finished dish as a dot. Now picture each interaction we have with the ingredients as concentric circles surrounding that dot. Pounding a curry paste in a mortar and pestle, for instance, is a complex undertaking that would add several rings around the dot of “vegetable curry.” Lose the mortar and pestle and blam the ingredients in a food processor and you erase a few rings, like the satisfying soreness that sets in as you pound and pound and pound wondering “is this ever going to work?” and that epiphany moment when individual ingredients yield and it really does. Buying prepared curry paste deletes even more rings—like the conversation with the person at the market about chiles and where to find lemongrass stalks—until all you’re left with is a shell of “eating” around “vegetable curry.”
I’m not saying don’t ever buy another jar of curry paste—I know I’ll continue to do so in the future. I’m simply suggesting that how involved we get with preparing our food really does make a difference. It's a wonderfully satisfying mindful eating practice.
So here’s my challenge: Pick a night (or day) when you’ve got some time, choose something you wouldn’t normally make from scratch – salsa, curry paste, vinaigrette, you name it – and make a homemade version. Then notice the difference–not just in how it tastes, but in how you feel throughout it the whole process.