On Cooking and Living Sensually

I spend a great deal of time on this blog contemplating the nature of femininity, generally, the varied expressions of our erotic nature, and what it takes for us to transform ourselves into works of art. I spend a great deal less time talking about things I just…like. Because I do have some enjoyable hobbies outside of what takes place here. Fitness is one. Traveling is another. Lately, I’ve also been able to add outdoor activities, like hiking, to the list. (It’s that time of year.) I love being active. It makes me feel more alive.

And while each of those activities satisfies me in different ways, none of them is able to fuse the creative and the sensual, or the carnal, aspects of my nature in the same, immensely pleasurable way as cooking. It is also true that no creative endeavor–not even writing–possesses the ability to put me in a “flow” state like cooking does. When I am in the kitchen, I quickly lose all sense of time, of my surroundings, and my mind simply quiets. I am focused. I am the epitome of concentration. I am also vibrant, in motion, and fully sensually alive. Indeed, I mentioned in a previous post that cooking represents, for me, a kind of ritual that is vital to sensual living. It helps me connect with my inner domestic goddess in a wonderful way.

Here are some thoughts on enhancing the quality of your time in the kitchen and transforming routine, everyday meal preparation into a more lavish, more artistic, innately gratifying experience.

Set the mood.

I find it impossible to cook well without music (Either jazz or something lounge-y, like soft house. Rhythms I can feel myself sinking into.). A glass of wine is also preferable. I never set the lights too bright. And I always, always, always clean the kitchen before I start cooking. That means putting clean dishes away, clearing out the sink, and tidying up the counters. There is nothing enjoyable or calming about cooking in a messy kitchen, especially if you’re making a multi-course meal. Which means you are about to create a sizable mess of your own.

With that in mind, keep cleaning as you go. Don’t wait until the very end to do all of the dishes. If you wash dishes and utensils as you use them (or put them in the dishwasher as soon as you’re done with them), the kitchen will stay neat, and your workspace will remain pleasantly clean. It’s all about ambience. Treat yourself to an aesthetically pleasing space. The more frequently you practice alternating between cleaning and doing food prep, the more seamlessly you will move back and forth between activities. It will all flow together, and the cleaning portion won’t feel like a chore. Create a nice environment, and work to maintain it. That’s part of the ritual.

Get your hands dirty.

I know some people get grossed out at the thought of handling raw meat. Or of working with animal proteins they’ve never used before (say, octopus or live lobster). My advice? Suck it up, buttercup. 

Really working with your hands is a fundamental part of turning rote meal preparation into an art. It also makes the food taste better. Don’t use a salt shaker. Sprinkle salt onto your food with your fingers. (This also helps you season more precisely.) Rub seasonings into raw meat, and trim it yourself. Don’t use pre-cut vegetables (most of the time). Cut them yourself. Mince your own garlic. Wash and chop your own herbs. Always season with your hands. The process of manually working with food is quite gratifying. (I dare say it’s “earthy.”) Shortcuts may be expedient, but they take away from the art of the moment. If you have the time, make the most of it.

Let yourself go.

Rarely do I look at a recipe and think, “Wow, I’d really like to make that!” More often, I ask, “Ooh, what can I do with that?” And I begin imagining the possibilities for putting my own spin on what’s been given to me. Indeed, if you’re looking to have a more creative experience in the kitchen, then allowing yourself the space to “play” is key.

Make substitutions. Experiment with different ingredients. Make the dish yours. Use a recipe as a rough template for what you should–or could–do. (The more experienced you are in the kitchen, the easier it will be for you to know how to experiment successfully.)

To be sure, some of my favorite dishes to create come from recipes that were passed down to me from my grandmother. Tomato sauce, meatballs, and various other pasta dishes that I learned to cook only by sight and in a language of pinches, dashes, and handfuls. (Because old Italian grandmas never write down their recipes.) When I cook that way, I genuinely feel I am creating. I let myself go and do what comes naturally. That is also when my food is the best. When it’s prepared with abandon.

22 thoughts on “On Cooking and Living Sensually

  1. Duke Ellington went to Juilliard for two weeks to study jazz. The history of jazz came up and the narrative was a bit, top down thinking. So, they had one big argument and he, left.

    “Socrates responds that learning is not a matter of discovering something new but rather of recollecting something the soul knew before birth but has since forgotten. ”

    To create. Might be where our soul goes and to teach creation one must have a soul rather than just teaching the body to do tricks. I like how you express this when you write. To push one toward the soul of something rather than just the content. Woof. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree. We are encyclopedias of old ideas with expensive degrees. (Myself, excluded. Lower class library card education) Some transcend but most do not and are more than willing to, promote these old ideas. Not all ideas are bad but most are without the soul of something inside it.

    Fast food for instance. The idea is convenient but the soul of the food is missing. I’m sure we could name off dozens of examples in everyday life. So, everyday we lose these little pieces of ourselves because to give from creation is to share your soul. Then we wonder where the emptiness came from. Especially, for men who adhere to a strict code of conduct. Expressionless. Unemotional. Focused. Angry. American men, the antihero of the soul.

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    1. You know, there’s nothing wrong with being largely self-taught. The best parts of my formal education are the skills I learned—how to think critically, how to write (some of which I have actively tried to unlearn), how to speak, etc. A lot of the rest didn’t mean much. And it doesn’t unless you can put it together for yourself in a way that’s meaningful and useful to you.

      Expressionless, unemotional, hard men make my soul sad. They don’t know how to be whole. They drain the love right out of their relationships. And wear down the women who try to love them. Antihero of the soul, indeed.

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      1. There is a word. SAMADHI. In Buddhism it’s a wholeness, this spark, can be everyday or just a moment. Other similarities in Yoga, make it a product but the “isness” is, there. I’m not too keen on yogic practices without the words and philosophy of it. It’s like dancing without music. Anyways. Samadhi can be achieved without Yoga or Buddhism. It is, that higher conscious thought where we perform things in a meaningful manner. Like, what you express while cooking.

        Love and samadhi. Sound very similar. I’ve never noticed before now. Thank you.

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      2. I’ve been okay without someone most of my life. I push toward those things that keep my soul busy. I was married once. She liked the money my boss made. So. They left together and I was fired. I can’t say it was his fault entirely I think my ex wife and I made better friends than a marriage. I haven’t really tried for someone since. I’ve just, been content with those ideas that keep my mind busy. I understand the need for intimacy can compromise the need for, love. Maybe, also to be loved. Pop culture sets unachievable standards for love and leaves most, fatter and disappointed for it. I guess. I’ve just chose to look away and feed my soul.

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      3. “Fatter and disappointed.” Yeah, I can see that. I look at “feeding my soul” as something I need to do, not something I think I should make a partner’s responsibility. I’ve never actually been in a relationship with a man who is creative in the way (or even similar to the way) that I am. Maybe that’s why I feel that way. Like my creative pursuits are solitary activities that I can sometimes share.

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      4. Maybe it’s the emptiness and the fullness of differences in what are called the same thing. Love. Can you be creative in physical love? Sure. Can you be creative to be creative? Sure. You can exhaust physical love but cannot exhaust creativity. I look to drawing and then I can see the edges and details of the physical world. I can see the mistakes in a movie and appreciate their effort. When I draw in my sleep. I’m rested.

        So, creative efforts can be a single audience. I agree. It would be great to meet someone creative, similarly. It is life. Lives of creatives pretending, in a world of people clinging to pretentious.

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      5. Well said. It is, most of all, the pretending that gets to me. In everyday life. The various faces we put on that are incongruous with what’s in the inside. I’ve noticed in myself, over the last few years in particular, a resistance to that kind of behavior. A double-edged sword, to be sure. But, I’d still rather be myself, creative quirks included, than be a bad imitation of all the things I don’t like.

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      6. I can agree. I’m not sure what it’s like to date someone that would not accept my quirks. As my dating history suggests it is not successful. I think you are wonderful and any man would be lucky to have your company.

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      7. The mind wanders. It is the light down dark passageways of old monsters with old faces.

        I won’t refute eugenics. It was a flawed science that did give us Planned Parenthood. We come to ideas as intelligent observers. We are the future. It doesn’t pan out for them. But, it doesn’t mean they’re ideology is just thrown back in the closet with the other bogeymen. Does it? We can have chainsaw rednecks chase on Halloween but deny. Real monsters. Sounds chaste.

        Liked by 2 people

      8. Yes, it gave us Planned Parenthood, itself flawed, yet necessary. Isn’t that what we try to do, though, with these old ideas—negotiate? Navigate? Try not to make the same mistakes as our predecessors—not to perform the same monstrosities they did? We dress up old ideologies differently, give them a less monstrous face, and then say we’ve learned from history.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Flawed because unfortunately women and women’s rights, are a thing. A good thing but if we are all equal under the law the protection for women should not be an issue. It should be understood that is essential for women and therefore essential also to men who like women. White washing. Kind of a popular negative stereotype on stereotyping. This administration although conservative takes us all on liberal history lessons itself scrubbing the past away. I agree though. Look at what we know. Apply it. Does it work? No. Then, stop. Look at what we know. The steam roller outlook never helped the needs of most people. From America’s beginnings though, the behavior was to steam roll and if you were American you were driving the roller.

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