At some point or another we have all heard the expression “Food Therapy.” What Food Therapy actually means is different for everyone. For some it may be the actual art of culinary cooking; the experimenting, cultivating and originating of ideas and recipes of the same or of new. Others may view it as the actual act of preparing, cooking, and presenting food. Food is so versatile it can be used to stimulate all of our senses really.
How a prepared dish looks can be the difference between feeling pleased and wanting, to a more disappointing feeling of disdain or disgust. When you go to a restaurant, what is it that you want to get out of your food visually? It is the amount of prepared goodness that fills your plate so abundantly? Is it not about the quantity of the food but the artistic presentation set before you? Perhaps the steak, mashed potatoes, and green beans are stacked or plated in a way that is ascetically pleasing to the eye and the sprig of fresh rosemary or chopped parsley lining the plate gives it that extra something.
How about the sound of food? Does your child get enjoyment from the crunch, crunch, and crunch of a good apple? Or how about the snap of a freshly picked sugar snap pea? The sounds of different foods cooking can cause subtle ease and contentment – just as much for instance, the crackling of my favorite eggplant sizzling in oil being prepared for eggplant parmesan, as opposed to the scraping and high-pitched sounds of a blender mixing batter may not be as appealing.
Smell, in my opinion, is the most important of the senses when it comes to food as therapy. I never really ate anything that tasted bad if it smelled so good! Food smells are powerful in that they unearth a vast array of feelings. For me, the smell of chocolate chip cookies baking is both warm and brings nostalgia of my childhood. The fresh smell of summer ripe tomatoes brings about a feeling of lightheartedness, health, and rejuvenation.
Touch. Need I say more? Touching food can definitely be a deal breaker when preparing or even thinking of consuming a dish. For instance, there are definitely certain meats I just cannot touch (nor smell) and therefore I cannot prepare them. Touch. Going back to those (oh so close in season) farmers markets. Reaching your hands out to pick up that bunch of garlic, those ripe tomatoes, or fresh strawberries and blueberries can be one of the most satisfying experiences when cooking. Texture. The smoothness, yet feeling of small bumps on the skin of an avocado can be delightful to some while the furry almost brittle hairs of a kiwi may not. Or how about the feelings of kneading fresh baked bread into flour? Touch is a necessary and important part of our cooking therapy.
Finally, taste. Ah, taste. Just thinking about the other senses named above, can you think of your favorite dish and already feel your mouth water? It’s like our taste buds have a memory of delicious and fulfilling gratification. Before, we even set out to cook a new recipe can we think about how we expect a dish to taste based on our other senses? We can do it with recipes past.
So, in turn, I ask you, what is your food therapy like? Here is mine. I tend to be more creative and concerned about visual presentation and taste amongst all other senses when I cook. I cook to release stress or “zone out” for a bit, if you will. I take pleasure and satisfaction in my cooking when others enjoy my dishes. Meals can be simple and still look pretty and be healthy. Pictured is a Greek salad I made for lunch the other day. The ingredients I used were those I happened to have on hand and include: spring mix salad, roasted red peppers, Kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, cucumber, and a light dressing made with apple cider vinegar, EVOO, garlic, oregano, parsley, and basil. For dinner was BBQ Chicken (charcoaled by my husband) with grilled vegetables and sweet potato. Nothing too fancy here. The sweet potatoes were also grilled in foil after being poked and adding a pinch of Himalayan pink salt. The vegetables were tossed in EVOO and seasoned with Adobo. It was definitely a winner-winner-chicken-dinner.