Alone in the Kitchen – Stirring Up Mindfulness
Julia Child, the trilling television chef who taught millions of Americans how to prepare French food without being hoity-toity, died in her sleep at the age of 92. In dozens of articles, she has been glowingly eulogized for her spirit, her humor, and her ability to share her passion for cooking and fine dining.
I’ve never tried any of Julia Child’s recipes, and I watched her show only on those days when I was skipping high school. I was fascinated by her confidence in the kitchen, and I absolutely loved the way she dealt matter-of-factly with her mistakes. The line she used to excuse a dropped chicken or imprecisely flipped potato pancake? “You’re alone in the kitchen, anyway.” Just patch it up and serve with a smile.
We would do well to stir in a little of Julia’s wisdom when it comes to stewing in our own juices. For those of us likely to simmer in frustration or stick to the fear pan, her gentle and humorous approach to making mistakes is a refreshing reminder to be forgiving in order to be fabulous.
A mischievous teen and notorious good-time girl in college, Julia didn’t set out to impress anyone but herself. Along the way, she inspired millions. Her wildly popular cookbook, “The Way To Cook”, made gourmet food attainable to anyone willing to give it a go. The child herself served up some delicious morsels of advice for the way to live.
1) Start at any age.
If you think that only monks who start chanting at age 8 are likely to develop any respectable level of mindfulness, remember Julia Child. She grew up completely oblivious to her potential in the kitchen, relying on the family cook for meals and snacks. She didn’t take a cooking class until she was 34 years old, and it wasn’t until the age of 51 that she started cooking before the masses on television. She continued to write cookbooks throughout her eighties.
2) Move past your mistakes.
This is especially helpful in meditation. If you find yourself kneading a few thoughts, whipping up some emotions, or punching down your view of yourself as a “good” meditator, simply dump that flattened souffle in the trash and move on.
You’re alone in your head, anyway.
3) Do it for yourself.
Julia Child always ended her television shows by sitting at a beautiful table set for one and raising her glass of wine to the camera with a melodic, ascending “Bon Appetit!” She made it seem perfectly reasonable to spend time lovingly preparing a delicious meal–for yourself. She delighted in the idea of cooking–and dining–for the sheer joy of the experience.
By remembering that we are never too old to start, that we must expect to make mistakes as we keep moving forward, and that we need not impress anyone but ourselves, we can stir up mindfulness wherever we are.
I still think that staying home to watch Julia Child should have been an excused absence from school. She taught me the value of demystifying difficult concepts in order to embrace learning without fear.