When Fall comes, as a child of a farm family and an organic farmer, I think of harvesting the bounty that the summer sun and rains have grown for us. When it comes to harvesting, I think of eating the wonderful, comforting food—potatoes, carrots, cabbage, squash. Lately, I specifically think of chili and corn bread. Mmm! Mmm! I was trained to smother my corn bread with butter and maple syrup. Mmm! Mmm! Just thinking about it makes me want to have some now!
In the Fall, I also think of “boiled supper.” My mom used to have that regularly in the fall and winter. She would put potatoes, carrots, onions and cabbage together into a big pot and just boil it all together until the potatoes and carrots softened. Back then, she would add a beef roast to the pot. The entire family would dive into it, sometimes putting ketchup all over it. We loved it!
I still love it, today! I often make it myself, now. But, as a yogi and vegetarian, instead of putting ketchup all over it and including the beef, Mary and I spread sour cream over these wonderful tasting fall crops. Mmm! Mmm! Gee! I think I would like some now!
It’s that wonderful sound of the people eating that makes cooking so joyful! Much work and mental emotion energy are often part of the preparation for the meal, especially if one wants to have a balanced diet and one wants to have a variety of high quality vegetarian meals, as Mary does. Mary loves to experiment with new tastes and new combinations of foods. That not only takes a lot of talent and learning (Mary has learned how to taste the food by just reading the recipe or thinking about the different spices to use), but it also takes a lot of time and energy.
The work of cooking becomes a joy when the anticipated pleasure on the face of the one who eats it bursts forth with the first taste. Food and preparing the food is not just to feed the body and taste buds. Both nourish the mind and the soul, bringing all those who eat into union with the Life Source and Force of the Universe—Brahman.
In yoga, Brahman means Consciousness. In yoga, Consciousness is one. All life, even the rocks and water, has consciousness. Eating is that one moment in the day when, especially after a prayer of gratitude, we have the opportunity to become one again with all of life.
That is the ultimate service of the cook. He or she gives us the opportunity to experience our union with God (Brahman) as we offer that food to our digestive fire (Agni), which transforms it into the vitamins, enzymes, minerals we need to continue our work on earth. Cooking is a selfless service (karmic action) to all who eat. The one who cooks is the extension of God because the cook transforms the fruit of the gardens into the life force and energy (prana) that is consumed by all of us. This life force (prana and consciousness in the food and in the preparation of the food) fulfills divine nature of all who indulge. When Mary sees the joy on my face from the food that she has prepared her Divine, Infinite, and Perfect essence is honored and glorified. Alleluia! Thank you, Mary! Thank you, all cooks!