From my sisters’ kitchens
And how they remind me time and again what food really is
Me and my sister live on the opposite coasts of America. Our usual trips visiting each other are short and quick. They usually don’t have enough time in them to allow for activities like leisurely cooking. But this visit we have extra days on us and so we take it to the kitchen without clocks and phones, and we plot and experiment, we smell and taste, we hold the grains and the fruits, we sing and joke around, we witchcraft, and we cook!
Our usual ritual these days is starting our morning with drinking chai in the patio and discussing what’s the action kitchen will see this day. We talk about the ingredients first and identify which of those excite us for our cooking spatulas and our tasting tongues. Based on the ingredient moods we find a beautiful recipe by another sister from any part of the globe, this time Sadia from the Netherlands, and we get going with their maps and dreams to a healthier spread on our community tables.
This last week we had been discussing to get better with our breakfast routines and add variety to our options. We had browsed and seen so many aesthetically beautiful and mouthwatering recipes of smoothie bowls, yogurt bowls, on Instagram pages and food blogs, with their gorgeous colors from fruits and flowers, the bright purple, the sunshine yellow, the sparkly pink, all with a common ingredient of healthy grains and seeds and nuts filled, sugar free, oil-free delicious granola! We found our perfect match with Sadia’s recipe of Healthiest Ever Granola.
This would be a good time to tell you all I am not usually the chef in these scenarios. I am the reckless, lazy and slow junior assistant who drops stuff, breaks stuff, has no understanding of quantities, forgets to add key ingredients, manages to keep the master chef super annoyed by constantly taking pics and moving things around.
When I cook alone, I am throwing things in the pot and hoping with blind faith something edible will cook to its mediocrity. Then I eat on the kitchen counter. On good days, I eat on the couch with laptop on my lap trying to edit the last things I wrote. It is the ugliest thing to see. It is disrespectful to the art of cooking and eating from every single angle and it happens on a daily basis when I am in my cities. Fortunately, when living in farms, another side of me manifests which we shall throw light on later.
Anyway, in spite of this utter failure of a life as a cook and an eater, I have miraculously managed to attract exactly opposite people in my life. These are my sisters, or rather kitchen Goddesses, with their flawless and magical productions and an eternal Midas touch.
One can easily imagine them waking up from their sleep of starry nights, harvesting fruits and vegetables from their lavender gardens, and entering the kitchen wearing their white and silky clothes, then cutting, mixing, boiling, pouring, cooking with their hands of magic.
Then they would place the food on the table absolutely looking like something so perfect of a painting, you would not have the courage to disturb its colors and composition with your fork. And when you do, you would remember again what is food and why this is the only way it should be cooked and served.
You would be reminded here again that food is an opportunity. It is a wonderful opportunity to steal time from crazy mindless schedules, and cook something simple and nice, eat something healthy, share a warm meal with your loved ones or even complete strangers.
And with this small and simple gesture we all connect in a way that is transcendental. This basic ritual of cooking and eating together keeps us together in love as friends, families, a community. Let us never forget the gifts of food.
Coming back to the story I started with on the healthiest ever granola project with my sister, after the granola, we moved on to making berry chia seed jam, yogurt from almond milk, and using all these to make gorgeous breakfast bowls and relishing them on our patio before the rains. There are many stories behind each of these mini-projects that I will share in days to come.
But in the meantime, I hope you find another human and cook a humble meal together, and eat and chat over your culinary collaboration, and remember again what food really is. It is our space to connect in ways we miss during our day to day craze. Happy cooking and happy eating!
Junior assistant Vaishali Paliwal to
Master chef Prerana Paliwal