The Missing Ingredient
I watched my children grow up at the same time as I observed the evolution of my own understanding of our agricultural heritage. At the time, I was driving the cuisine of my two restaurants, Heartbeat Restaurant in NYC and Pure in Mumbai India. Both were very high-end restaurants based on my Cuisine of Well-Being, serving highly technical dishes based on recipes and techniques that would be impossible for home cooks to replicate. For all the accolades I was receiving and success I was experience, I was left feeling hollow. I found myself desperately yearning to return to the heirloom recipes I learned from my mother.
As I began glancing back into the roots of my culinary beginnings, I remembered how healthy we were as kids growing up, and that we probably ate more fruits and vegetables than the 5+ servings a day recommended by today’s USDA! When I wonder about the healthfulness of my mom’s recipes and her heartful approaches, and marvel at the comfort I find in their flavors, I remember one ingredient found in every single one: love. It’s good to have found my way home.
When Mom taught me how to cook, she was passing on generations of love. This may sound corny, but the deposit of love in every dish is as rich as the deposits of minerals and nutrients in the good earth that nurtures our food. Every family member who passes on a recipe embellishes it with love.
This may take the form of a respectful tweak in the method or streamlining the ingredients, but the love is there. Mom used to say, “Don’t cook when you’re unhappy. Someone will taste it and think you don’t love them.” My heart has been aching to share simpler, down-to-earth recipes with my readers, recipes that rely on the bounty of gardens and local farms. My mission has long been to cook healthfully and so my conscience has, until now, held me in check from exploring these dishes. But now I see how I can do both.
As my mother would say, as long as your head is screwed on tight, you won’t lose it. If you don’t lose your head, you can do anything. I hope you’re hungry!
Photo Courtesy of Andre Baranowski. Baranowski is a NY based food photographer and was the principal photographer for Michel Nischan’s cookbook – Sustainably Delicious.