“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people
to collect wood, and don’t assign them tasks and work,
but rather teach them to long for the endless
immensity of the sea.”
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery
I came across this quote in a book I love entitled, An Everlasting Meal, by Tamar Adler. It begins a chapter about what to do when cooking seems burdensome and distasteful (pun intended). It serves as a reminder that even things we love and feel passionately about, sometimes become a battle. For me, this quote offers insight into how we approach cooking, education and parenting – all things I am passionate about!
Though I love to cook, there are times when I definitely do not even like it. As Adler writes, “Food is what I love, and how I communicate love, and how I calm myself. But sometimes, without my knowing why, it is drained of all that. Then cooking becomes just another one of hunger’s jagged edges. So I have ways to take hold of this thing and wrest it from the claws of resentment, and settle it back among things that are mine.” So how do you love something that is causing you stress and anxiety? She suggests connecting with foods that have brought you pleasure in the past – this is where comfort food and “little luxuries” come into play. For me, that means breakfast for dinner, a simple spaghetti with good Parmesan, salt and pepper, or a cheese I love with baguette and a glass of wine. What does it mean for you?
When it comes to teaching and parenting, this quote holds even more meaning for me. It is so easy to get caught up in the rush of what we have to do and to assign kids (and ourselves) tasks in the service of this. When I am able to breathe and connect, then I can inspire my students or children. Then learning is no longer about completing tasks, but about curiosity and “longing for the endless immensity of the sea”.
I am a firm believer that with the right, high-quality ingredients anyone can put together a satisfying meal. Yes, there are techniques you can learn and countless complex dishes, but a meal of a few good cheeses, olives, baguette, and wine can also be fabulous. It’s worth spending a little more to know that the quality is really good. Find local stores with great products and, preferably sales people who really know and are excited about what they carry. Here in Roslindale, we have an excellent cheese shop that sells lots of interesting goodies. Here’s are some things we like to buy: parmesan cheese sticks, salty caramels, farmhouse cheddar (sharp with an almost grainy texture), and Red Dragon cheese (cheese with coarse mustard in it).
I also recommend having good olive oil on hand. Use something mild for everyday cooking, but have a bottle of flavorful olive around to add to cooked pastas, make salad dressing or dip bread into. While we can’t all do what Barbara Kingsolver did (see Animal, Vegetable, Miracle) and eat only local food in season, the more we can buy produce grown close to home, the better it will taste. Most importantly, find foods that make you close your eyes and say “Mmmmm,” or smile because they’re so good.
We all like to have choices! When it comes to food, having a little choice can be the difference between grumpy eating and enthusiastic eating, especially with kids who are picky eaters. One easy solution is to follow the model of make-your-own sundaes and apply it to dinner food:
Make your own pasta extravaganza –
- Boil a big pot of water and select 2 different kinds of pasta (my kids are big fans of wagon wheels, penne, rigatoni and spaghetti). When the first is done, use a big strainer spoon or tongs to take it out and add the 2nd kind.
- Make your own quick tomato sauce (10-min. tomato sauce) or buy a good-quality jar (e.g., Rao’s, Muir Glen, Newman’s or 365). Make your own pesto (pesto recipe) or buy a jar (365 and Traders Joe’s are good).
- Grate some Parmesan (fresh is way better than pre-grated or Pecorino Romano (saltier than parm) cheese. Put out small bowls of chopped olives and sun-dried tomatoes. If you want more protein, include sautéed shrimp, meatballs (homemade or store-bought), or white beans (delicious with broccoli raab).
Welcome to Your Story Coaching! I created this site as a place for people learn more about coaching, teaching, cooking and learning. You can also get in touch with me by phone or email if you want to learn more about how to book me for an event or to contract with me as a coach or educational consultant. Looking forward to exploring and learning together!