Look up learning to cook and you’ll undoubtedly find lists for basic skills to master, essential kitchen tools and 26 definitive recipes or must-have cookbooks.
But no knife skill or foolproof recipe will help if you don’t do two things first: trust what you already know and engage your whole mind.
Here’s what I mean: Techniques and recipe instructions are analytical and logical. But the best cooking is also intuitive, improvisational and highly sensory.
You can’t get that from any book, so how can you cultivate it all on your own?
Last Saturday I taught a cooking workshop for eight at The Jennings Hotel in my hometown. I love planning and teaching workshops. At same time I worry about what I don’t know, what mistakes I’ll make…
As adults, we like to feel competent. We feel like we are “supposed to know” already. But as Jung reportedly said, “I’d rather be whole than good.”
Our brains–at least the over-developed analytical parts–get in the way of true learning, enjoyment–and better cooking.
We naturally have strengths and preferences, modeled as learning styles and multiple intelligences. But the more we can exercise other dimensions of our abilities, the more aware, perceptive and engaged we become.
More present. More whole.
Whole mind cooking in action
Last Saturday night when we were browning Brussels sprouts on the stove top, everyone thought that they needed to be stirred. That was the analytical mind second guessing everything.
Meanwhile the sounds of the vegetables sizzling gently in the pan and the pleasing aromas attested that all was okay. We just had to trust and pay attention–and fight off those bossy voices in our heads.
There is a pervasive fear of burning food. While it’s actually pretty hard to burn things, I understand it as the worry we carry around that we’re going to do something wrong.
At the same time, there is a sense of obligation to be “doing something” active. “You’re not cooking,” somebody quipped while we waited for the Brussels sprouts to brown.
It made me laugh hard because it’s so true! We’re all so dang busy that we often don’t recognize when we’re overdoing. Unnecessarily getting in our own way.
Cooking couldn’t be just standing there listening, smelling and watching–or could it? Sometimes attentiveness is enough.
Cooking well does take some level of skills, a few tools and guidelines in the form of techniques or recipes. But I think the more important elements are much less tangible.
Sensation. Reflection. Intuition. Perception. Emotion.
This is whole mind cooking to me. Does this sound true at all for you?
A Whole Mind Cooking Experience
Cooking eggs is one of classic culinary skills for beginners and proficient cooks alike. Try this frittata recipe using this concept of whole mind cooking. Start from a place of trust while drawing on your reasoning abilities as well as your other ways of knowing.
Then, let me how it goes in the comments, or share your photos on Instagram #lynnecurry.