The refrigerator defrosting chore earlier this week was a good mindfulness exercise regarding food. When defrosting a refrigerator or deep freezer, you have to temporarily remove each container of food and store it in a place where it will remain cold or frozen.
There are the usual staples such as dairy and perishable produce. Then we encounter other foods and condiments with much longer shelf lives such as bottled beverages and mustard. There might even be one or two items that we’ve forgotten about that had gotten shoved to the back of a shelf and need to be discarded.
The hidden benefits of owning an old-fashioned refrigerator without automatic defrost, is the process of sorting and the resulting mindfulness about food. What types of food are frequently replaced? What food items are in the fridge for long-term storage? How much neglected food has gone to waste? What types of food do we over-consume? What foods do we actually need?
This week, at the back of the freezer compartment, I discovered a slender box that contained one veggie burger. There was a bag that contained one serving of brussel sprouts. Another plastic bag contained half a serving of mixed vegetables. It seemed like I discovered free food. Those items were set aside to prepare for lunch later on.
“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… The people who give you their food give you their heart.”–Cesar Chavez
During a vacation to India several years ago, I noticed a gracious practice at every household I visited. Shortly after being seated in the home, the host or hostess would bring out a tray of finger food. They offered chai or a soft drink to accompany the treat. In fact, Indian cuisine helped increase my fondness for the culture of India.
I wish I could duplicate a particular dish that was served by my Indian sponsor. It is a tomato soup prepared with fresh tomatoes, masala spices, and yogurt. The recipe had been in the family for several generations. The soup has become a personal grail food because I’ve idealized the memory of it. The soup represents the lovely hospitality of my hosts.
There is a commercially marketed beverage I enjoyed at a bus stop near Mumbai. My friends recommended I try some “Duke’s Mangola”. It’s a mango flavored soft drink that I instantly fell in love with. I wonder if Mangola would be popular in the United States if it was marketed here.
As a single person who too often eats alone because of social distancing, memories about communal meals are special. Dinner is better when consumed with other people. Although the dishes are prepared with calories and nutrients in mind, meals eaten with family and friends are about identity, honesty, and love. Sharing a meal with a friend seems like a holy act. The meal is an act of bonding. One of my favorite simple pleasures is to prepare stir-fry to share with a pal.
Now that the refrigerator has been defrosted and gleaned, there is the matter of slowly restocking it more mindfully. Healthier eating has become my intention, at least for awhile.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Ludwig van Beethoven. “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
Shared meals can be acts of bonding: You’ve gotten to the heart of the matter. People eating together is, I think, an innate need.
I believe this is true.
This is a really nice reflection on a chore which is not beautiful or mundane. I also miss the communal meals. There is a certain magic of conversation over a communal meal that has been lacking in the pandemic.
We forget such simple, basic pleasures until they become more difficult to acquire.