Cooking might seem like a dreadful chore. But carefully attended to, it is perhaps one of the most therapeutic things we can do daily. We cook food for far more than physical fuel; it always carries a mood, a message, even a philosophy. We make spicy curry when we have a dull day at work. We remind ourselves to simplify by grilling up some fish, dressed with only a lemon. We use soup to heal when we are sick (in body or soul). Special foods connect us to old memories and previous selves.
Preparing the meal is meditative. While chopping vegetables, we must focus intently on one thing alone. The house becomes filled with warmth, the smell of the oven, the sound of the boiling broth. We appreciate how much small, inexpensive things like fresh apples or browning butter contribute to our happiness.
Cleaning might seem like drudgery at first glance, but in fact it has the potential to be calming, therapeutic, even an act of service. Following a meal, we clean up after the cook, thanking and showing appreciation for our spouse, our grandmother, or our host. They’ve thoughtfully guessed what we needed, and now we in turn strive to make their lives just a bit easier and more pleasant.
While cleaning, we might think about what else in our lives needs to be put in order. Who do we need to apologise to, and appreciate more? Or we might reflect on the painful, offensive aspects of the day, and then let them go a little. We’re scrubbing some build-up off our souls as well as our stovetop.