There’s a saying that I have had hanging on my wall for as long as I can remember. For years now, not a day has gone by when I haven’t thought or spoken these words to myself and others. The saying I see each morning before my feet hit the floor is “what you focus on, you create more of in your life.”
This means that whatever it is you spend the most time focusing on (whether that is on positive or negative energy, happiness or sadness), you are bound to manifest more of it. I thoroughly believe that thoughts become things, so we should choose the good ones and hone in on those. Nonetheless, being the realist that I am, I am also aware that focusing on materialistic items such as “money” will not beget more physical money in your life just by thinking about it. However, I do believe that by focusing on concepts, we can manifest certain skills or an affinity for that concept.
In my case, I focus on the idea and concept of food. The way to my heart has always been through my stomach and like I always say, “good food = good mood.” When I wake up each morning (slightly disoriented from the grogginess one feels after a heavy sleep), like many of you, I immediately think “W.T.F.”
However, my “W.T.F.” usually stands for “where’s the food.”
I suppose you could say that over the years, I’ve manifested quite the array of meals and dishes as a result of my constant daydream-state of culinary artistry.
Perhaps it’s my constantly churning thought process that has led cooking to be one of those things in life that one does and then thinks “whoa, how did I even do that?”
If you read my piece “9 Charleston Restaurants You Need to Feed Your Inner Foodie” then you might have surmised that I flirt with the idea of food quite often.
As a child, my television channel of choice was never Disney Channel or Nickelodeon; rather, I wanted to sit criss-cross applesauce on the floor with my little neck craned upwards to watch in awe as the Iron Chefs battled, or as Ina Garten whipped up another mouth-watering meal for “Jeffrey.”
When I was 9, I told my mom I wanted to be Jeffrey for Halloween. She looked at my slightly puzzled and then put the pieces together and realized that Jeffrey is the one who Ina Garten typically cooks for. Jeffrey has the great pleasure of indulging in famous Barefoot Contessa recipes such as Zesty Chicken Piccata or Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes while 9-year-old Sophia is typically found snacking on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches sans crust. I knew there had to be more to life than peanut butter and jam stuck between two pieces of store-bought bread.
So, the following Halloween I received my very own white chef’s jacket and skipped around neighborhoods with a spatula in one hand and an empty (soon to be filled) cooking pot in the other (so that I could collect ample amounts of candy while still remaining in character).
To me, the art of food and the act of eating is an invigorating experience that electrifies all of our senses. Whether those senses are activated by the sought-after crackling crisp sound you hear as you twist and tear the bubbling browned edges of a fresh baguette, or when you drag that morsel of bread into a tomato soup that is absolutely bursting with the taste of blistered tomatoes simmered in a rich heavy cream and dusted with just the right amount freshly cracked pepper.
Or perhaps, your senses become alive the moment you become intoxicated by the wafting smell of cookies in the oven only to be met by another moment when that perfectly undercooked cookie is placed in your hand and you can feel the beads of moisture build in your palm from the heat of the ooey-gooey chocolate chips that await you. Even more, maybe it’s simply the sight of a perfectly golden croissant, effortlessly dusted with powdered sugar perched inside of a glass dome atop of your local bakery’s counter that triggers the chain reaction of awakening your senses.
I focus on food because it excites me. I find it immensely gratifying that something I can create and prepare with my own hands can transform the way someone feels without any words being exchanged. As I mentioned earlier, good food elicits a good mood. With food, there is no need for speech or conversation between the chef and the consumer for the consumer’s mood to be transformed. The use and language of flavors, smells, noises, visual aesthetics, and textures act as the method of communication.
If nothing else, my hope is that these words have prompted you to view food from a different perspective. Though eating is a necessity, I believe that cooking is an art. A meal is an opportunity for communication and transformation and when you focus on that, you focus on what it means to truly experience food using all of your senses.