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Kitchen Apothecary: The Taste of Love in Food



Botticellis Birth of Venus

One of the biggest compliments that I ever received was from the leader of a self awareness class that I helped to produce over 15 years ago. I was helping with the logistics of pulling off the course and of course my part was to cook for the leader of the course; not an easy feat as there was no kitchen so I had to produce all of the food down to every minute detail on the pad that he gave me. These course leaders generally worked an average of 14 to 16 hour a day, so they really needed food that was energizing, healing AND delicious. At first glance, I thought that the gentleman in question was a huge pain in the butt, but as I began to shop for him what I noticed was a huge attention to minimalist detail and I was intrigued. So many things that he wouldn’t eat and I was used to being expansive and abundant in my kitchen, producing rich, glorious and not terribly healthy meals. It became a challenge for me and I thought "Ok…he’s going to love the food that I make for him”, even though I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to make dishes with approximately 5 ingredients taste any good!


So I took a deep breath and began to cook, a vegetable soup with asparagus with curry and no cream, a simple artichoke steamed with an olive oil aioli and a beautiful piece of sole that was poached in a fragrant base of tomatoes, onions, olives , saffron and fresh herbs.  For dessert there was a red wine poached pear with a drizzle of vanilla infused cream and raspberries.  Needless to say I was pretty proud of the meal but I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was a meal of whole foods and whole herbs and it was clean food so it was lighter than normal. It was pretty and I was happy when I wrapped it up to transport it back to the hotel where the course was being held.


I set the table, plated the food and left the room so that he and my husband    could talk. He was a fairly stern sort of man so I wasn’t expecting much. I never saw his face when he took the first bites but an hour later my husband walked out with a grin.  “Wow” he said and proceeded to give me thedetails. I guess that he took the first spoonful of soup and proceeded to tell my husband “I usually don’t expect much and that’s why I keep my requirements so simple. I used to live in a monastery in Colorado and for years I worked in the kitchen where they taught us every day to put love into the food we served. I have not tasted love in my food since I left there so many years ago.”


Image Origins Unknown

From that point on he smiled at me whenever he saw me and didn’t leave a scrap of the food. I was thrilled and I made it a life lesson from that moment on to discover what he meant. I think that love is an essential ingredient in cooking and once we’ve been made aware of it, we can taste when it’s missing. I think that we all know when it’s not present in our food, much in the same way that our bodies know the difference between whole herbals or extracted herbal isolates because there’s definitely an energy missing in the isolates that in my opinion is the healing heart and soul of the plant.  I’ve never been sure how I did it that day, but to truly have him experience the love that I’d put into preparing it for him was my intention and I was thrilled and intrigued by the result.


Courtesy of Haas Health online


I believe that the addition of love to our cooking IS the alchemical ingredient that blends the process of cooking with the process of healing . Without the energy of love our food becomes inert, simply something that we’re putting into our mouths to survive and we’re meant to thrive not survive! We can’t live without it so before I cook anything, I always try to create a simple and lovely intention for the meal. I notice that when I don’t  although the food may be good, that there’s just something that’s missing.


Sometimes it’s as easy as wanting to provide a nurturing meal for my family or to make a celebratory meal for a dear friend. Sometimes it’s as necessary as preparing something special for someone who’s ailing or grieving.  I try to tune in to what’s needed and cook the appropriate dishes.  I always want my guests to feel loved and special and preparing the meal is where that starts.


Courtesy of BBC Good Food

The foods and herbs that we eat have different energies and really can provoke different emotions  and an entire range of physical feelings. For example combinations of chicken or lamb with chocolate and chiles will always make you feel warm, sociable and happy but if you wanted to simply relax and spend the evening curled up with a good book you’d add lavender or lemon balm, honey and lemon instead.


Combinations of beef, pork and fruit laced with cinnamon, nutmeg and 5 spice and served with root vegetables is a meal that you’d eat when you needed to have a seriously focused conversation with a beginning and end. The traditions and soft creamy flavors of comfort foods are obvious to us all but there is a reason that lobsters and oysters are the lighter yet more primally fragrant foods that we serve when we are in the mood for an evening of love.


 Texture, aroma, visual and taste are only 4 of the senses that I use to create a balanced meal. There is a fifth emotional sense and I’ve learned that it can be provoked through the use of the energy that is to be found in all of our foods.


 Put your hands into your food when you mix it, taste it and enjoy the whole process of preparing it. Listen to some wonderful music while you’re cooking and just enjoy the process of chopping and preparing the ingredients; stir everything with love. Relax. Set the table with your best china even if it's just for you and your husband or if you’re just by yourself ...especially if I you’re by yourself. Sip a glass of wine while you’re cooking or a quiet cup of herbal tea. Slow down, breathe in and out and enjoy the process of preparing a meal filled  that’s filled with the most life enhancing  nutrient of all, the vitamin of love.




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