My dad always says that I “steal time”. Steal time from a packed day to do things that relax me. I call them “islands” that I integrate throughout the day when doing chores or working on projects.
My islands can be anything from a quick walk down by the stream inhaling the fragrance of the flowers and fields, relaxing on the bench in the yard while listening to the chorus of birds or a long warm shower washing the weariness away. Meditation for my mind and soul, it just takes a few minutes, but it leaves me feeling rejuvenated and gives me the power to accomplish the next chore.
Working in the kitchen, preparing and chopping food provides me with ample opportunity to get lost on my wistful islands. It was Eihei Dogen who wrote in his document titled “Instructions to the Head Cook,” in 13th century Japan:
“When you prepare food, do not see with ordinary eyes and do not think with ordinary mind.”
This quote has inspired and motivated me many times throughout my training in the hotel kitchens. Now more than ever however, this quote has come to mean so much more. As a photographer working, preparing and styling food almost everyday I see food from a distinctive perspective and think about food in an unconventional way. When I am in the kitchen chopping and preparing food I steal this time to transport myself to one of my “islands”.
Looking at food from the eyes of a stylist or a food photographer allows me to be creative and imaginative. Dogen actually says, in his instruction to the cook, that one should bring three minds to work in the kitchen: Joyful Mind, Grandmother Mind, and Big Mind.
I take these three minds one step further and bring them with me into my studio everyday.
Joyful Mind brings some fun and enjoyment into the kitchen. I open a bottle of wine, put on the music and create a fun atmosphere. Soeren usually joins me and soon we are singing into whisks and wooden spoons while the pots and pans sizzle to life.
Big Mind says the mind should be wide open and accepting things as they are. It indicates an awareness of reality that transcends the merely personal, or wholly subjective. For me I translate that as being open minded and creative in the kitchen or in the studio without getting bound down to the routine.
Grandmother Mind is the mind of great compassion and of acceptance. For me personally this frame of mind goes hand-in-hand with food planning, cooking and enjoying home cooked meals with friends and family. We all know what a big pinch of love and affection our grandmothers put into their dishes. And don’t those dishes always taste downright delicious?
How did these three minds help in creating this salad?
My joyful mind was looking for a splash of color and a mélange of fruity flavors in a light dish.
My big mind accepted the fact that I came back from Plate to Page with one of two watermelons that we never got around to using. We could have cut it up and eaten it but using the big mind I looked into my fridge and accepted the contents as they were to create a slightly different summer salad.
My grandmother mind worked in two ways: I threw a small party and invited friends to share my creation and for my friends in the virtual life, I engaged them in my watermelon addiction by getting them to complete a Plate to Page photography assignment on the Plate to Page Facebook page.
This salad adds a burst of color to your day and a boost of exceptional flavors. Fruity and savory flavors are something I absolutely love combining with each other and this salad really gets those flavors mingling. Juicy and sweet ripe peach and delectable watermelon tossed together with a colorful array of tomatoes and some lambs lettuce and finally topped of with soft and crumbly feta cheese. A simple honey-mustard vinaigrette complements the flavor palette wonderfully.
Last weekend the fantastic Neel of Learn Food Photography got Jeanne, Jamie, Ilva and me together and interviewed us on food photography, writing and of course From Plate to Page. We warned him that it might take all he had to keep us in line – but he managed and we had a lot of fun. The panel interview can be heard on Neel’s interview page soon. Hope you enjoy it.
In the meantime I hope you all have a great week and a relaxing weekend. Soeren has a solo guitar performance this weekend at our local Irish Pub! So please cross your fingers for him. He’ll be playing his first a-ha song … I am so excited!
You might like these fresh salad ideas from WFLH:
|Creamy Red Peppercorn Coleslaw||Roasted Aubergine Salad with Saffron Yogurt, Pine Nuts and Pomegranate||Garlicky Marinated Halloumi Cheese with a Roasted Tomato Quinoa Salad|
All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2011 Meeta Khurana Wolff unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First