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Setting the Table


People in the United States are cooking less and less – that’s the tendency. Yet, there is a resurgence of interest in food, where it comes from and how it is prepared. Cooking and food has become trendy, appealing, alluring, but…. not everyone has time to cook. Food blogs, farmer’s markets, restaurants and cook books are in the business of making food feel sexy, so that, even without time to cook and with little time to eat, we can still feel we are engaging with whatever desire is fueling this cultural food fashion.

Food is the great symbol of nourishment and sustenance. When we engage and lust after beauitufl food, we lust after deep nourishment, and the promise of what it entails – health, success, happiness. But lets face it, like other forms of advertisement, that trick us into thinking we can have what is displayed, eating out in restaurants and reading fancy food blogs isn’t what nourishes us. We are nourished by our environment, our lives and our attitudes. In my mind, food should be sexy, it should be beautiful, it should be highly valued (trendy if you will), but let us remember that we can attain this end ourselves in our own kitchens and homes. Being nourished by the beauty and appeal of food does not require rare ingredients, cook books, computers or large bills at fancy restaurants – while these items and activities may help inspire – you can create the same beauty and wonder around food each and every day at home in your own kitchen and at your own table no matter your skill level or resources.

When we cook and prepare food we infuse it with our love, care and attention. These actions nourish us and those we love during the preparation process and when we sit down to eat. When food is presented with intention and beauty, the nourishment that the food embodies is undeniable. Food that looks beautiful, appealing and cared for, is a reminder of the processes involved in food, the depth of the nourishment it provides – physical, emotional and spiritual. Making food look beautiful can range from cooking with a variety of colorful vegetables and fruits, garnishing the plate with herbs, spices, edible flowers and condiments or simply laying things out in a way that is intentional. One of the easiest and simplest ways to make food look beautiful, inviting and appealing is to set the table – yes, setting out a fork and knife, a glass of water or wine, putting a flower in a jar, or simply laying food out on a platter with a serving spoon.

It doesn’t have to take long, it doesn’t have to be complicated, it doesn’t even have to be formal, but when you set the table, you set your intention – we are here to eat, we are here to enjoy one another’s company, we are here to be nourished. I believe all acts of eating deserves this environment – even takeout.

Sometimes I also “set the kitchen,” laying out the different dishes on the stove and nearby countertops so that folks can serve themselves – the intention is still there, the benefits and effects of formality felt, but there is a sense of ease and comfort – take what you want, put it on the plate as you want it… enjoy it at your own pace.

Infusing with beauty and creating with intention is at the heart of practicing kitchen medicine. And often, it is the simplest of things that sends this message of intention, love and a commitment to nourishing ourselves.

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