I am lucky to be involved in a program this year called the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program.
Today I attended a training day where I learnt a multitude of new cooking skills that I can take back to my school and teach our year 3/4 students. Training days are very busy and we create a heap of fantastic tasting food during the day. I am a pretty inexperienced beginner cook and these training days really try to drag me into the realm of passionate food loving cooks, many who have been experimenting with food in their own homes for years. Unfortunately I know my passion does not rest in cooking. However, one of my passions is providing children with fantastic, rewarding, personally affecting experiences. Our kitchen garden program does this in spades and that is why I love it.
Anyway, during training today I had a moment. Actually I have lots of moments every day, but there are two related moments today that I think are worthy of sharing. These two moments relate to me, suddenly and unexpectedly, becoming one with my senses and finding peace and joy in what I sensed. I am sure most of us spin through our day, completing tasks on our “to-do” list for the day, dealing with mini dramas, damage controlling major dramas, sorting out possible issues or holes in our workplaces, our families, our personal lives. Today when I slowed down and focused I discovered the sense of touch can be amazing.
That sounds weird, but really, how often do we stop to enjoy what we touch? We might briefly caress a tactile fabric or gently stoke a baby’s hand, but generally our hands are used and often abused to the point of destruction and pain. So we switch off touch except for survival. I feel I cut myself on that piece of paper so I bandaid it. In one activity today, were required to identify different herbs through using our senses but while our eyes were closed. Well, how often does that happen? Never. Suddenly I could feel the subtle differences between leaf shapes, between thicknesses and softnesses. How gorgeously soft and thick is a leaf of lemon balm? How gorgeously thin and soft is a leaf of coriander? What a discovery I thought, my fingers are so awesome!
Then, the second time my sense of touch jumped to my attention was while I was making gnocchi. You know, with potatoes, by hand. While rolling those little lumps of mixture to the desired shape I was loving the way they felt as I went round, round, round and down on the little wooden paddle and then landed cute as a pie on the bench in front of me. They felt so soft and fragile. I could almost feel how yummy they would be when it got to eating time. Gosh, I really hope my students get to feel this close to their senses, to feel the satisfaction of making something using their senses and to measure their work through feeling. I loved making that gnocchi. Can I call that showing love on the plate? Have a look… What do you think?