Seeking Enlightenment in the Kitchen

Food Trip, Life, Noonie  /   /  By Rica Espiritu  /  25 views

I am not a foodie – although I do love eating. I love trying out new food, new recipes and new ways of doing old dishes.

The reason why I decided to write about food, cooking and recipes is so that when my son decides to have a family of his own, he can have a list of the food that he loved as a child, tuck away somewhere in the corners of the internet.** Hopefully he will be able to cook the dishes, relive the memories and how we survived this life with his children and grandchildren. Hopefully he will also find pleasure and satisfaction in cooking [cleaning, mopping, working]. That is, seeing the beauty in ordinary things. May these dishes bring him fullness of the belly as well as fullness of the mind and spirit.

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Yes, enlightenment

I’ve often longed to walk in the woods, have a solitary moment with nature, to commune and receive enlightenment as the Buddha did, under a Bodhi tree [Hmm we don’t have those, although a mango tree would do].

But no. there are times when I feel condemned to trudge the life of a worker, trying to make ends meet to survive. No time for leisure, to rest or recreation – after all, I have my son’s tuition to pay, the bills to settle and rent, medicine…ah! the medicine…and taxes.

There was a time when my son was sick for the entire week. He had an asthma attack for 3 days and had a bad case of colds too. So, I decided to cook soup for dinner.

I was preparing the ingredients when my son came in.

“Hi ma, what’s for dinner?”

“I don’t know love. Chicken Soup I guess. But we don’t have potatoes..and noodles..”  I said, chopping the onions.

“Is that still Chicken Soup without the potatoes and noodles.” He continued.

“Of course it is still Chicken Soup…it might taste a little different..but it is what it is.”

“Well… you can put cream in mine and it will also still be Chicken Soup to me.” My son smiled.

“Love, they might call that by another name.”

“Yes ma, but it is still Chicken Soup to me.” He then went back to chat on the net, telling his classmates that he was having Chicken Soup with cream for dinner.

That was when it hit me. I realized a few things while cooking:

  1. If you are so concerned with the end-result, one loses sight of the idea. I knew a wonderful blogger from  who could cook  from scrap [or is the word scratch?]. She would just put anything in the pot and it would turn out great. I tried her chicken soup recipe and it came close to my grandmother’s recipe too. I didn’t even realize chicken soup could be cooked that way.  My mother did it differently.. in the was still chicken soup.
  2. Chicken soup will be chicken soup to those who cook it. It can’t be ‘my way is better than your way.’ Rather… it’s more of, ‘my way is a different way’. We are all one. The dish is still chicken cooked in soup.
  3. There are a many ways to cook chicken soup. Just as there are many ways to climb a mountain.. pray to God.. do meditation and receive enlightenment. And just when you realize that you cooked the best chicken soup, somebody will tell you that there’s a different way [for the nth time]. It would be different and it would taste just as great.


** I’m not happy with the way I cook chicken soup. Yes it is more flavorful. But I want to be able to cook chicken soup the way my grandmother did it. She would feed me chicken soup when I was sick instead of the usual lugaw [rice porridge]. She would always say, “one day when I’m dead, you’ll remember me because of my chicken soup”. Well I do remember and God knows I wished I was able to ask for the recipe – or watch her cook it. My mom does the chicken soup differently, so does everybody else.  Here I am spending decades trying to find out how my grandmother did it, what made it different. I don’t want my son to experience this – at least he will have everything – in writing!

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