I had brown rice syrup in my coffee this morning. I am out of vegan sugar and agave nectar and I just wasn't feeling the coconut creamer chilling in my fridge. So, I went out on a limb and opened the jar of syrup that I have been avoiding for the past four months or so (something about the color or name of it, 'brown rice syrup' just has not looked appealing). It's not too bad. Sort of a more chill version of agave nectar. I would say it has a real subtle flavor. I used a teaspoon in my coffee with unsweetened almond milk and cinnamon and nutmeg sprinkled on top. I have a feeling that brown rice syrup would be a fantastic addition to a hot cup o' tea. And this afternoon I will test that hypothesis.
Recently I have begun to realize all of the time I spend being food-focused. It seems that so much of my day is spent on food: planning, shopping, unpacking, prepping, cooking, serving, eating, cleaning up after... it just goes on and on, day after day. And now with a blog, I spend time just writing about food. I realize it is a blessing to be able to have stores to shop at, money to spend on and a family to prepare food for, but I wonder if I am a little too consumed for my own good. I asked myself, "should one really spend this much time thinking about food?"
Then I read a chapter in the book, Searching for God Knows What, by Donald Miller. He is the guy who wrote Blue Like Jazz, my all time favorite non-fiction work. The chapter was about Adam in the Garden of Eden, before the fall of man. Here is a brief synopsis of what I took, I am sure I am not going to do Mr. Miller any justice, but oh well here goes anyway...
So, Adam was chilling alone in the garden and right away God knew that Adam needed someone to keep him company. Because that is God's specialty, knowing what it is we need. Well, even then though God saw how lonely Adam was, He didn't just make him Eve right away. No sir, God said to Adam, "you got work to do." We all know what Adam probably did for the next 100 years or so, he got to work naming all the animals. (If I think that planning my grocery list is tedious work, imagine naming all the species of birs? I can't even tell the difference between a sparrow and a lark... so it is a good thing this was Adam's job and not mine. If it had been my job, all the animals would be named like George Formans' children. See that is really funny if you know about George Formans kids.)
Anyways, Adam is going along naming animals, still lonely (I mean, I am sick of talking to just my kids after one day, can you imagine trying to share what is on your heart and mind with the animal kingdom? For a week? Much less one hundred years?! This Adam guy had stamina.) and then finally God says, "alright, let's put you to sleep and get to creating you a mate."
Can you imagine the excitement Adam must have felt when he opens his eyes and he finally sees the someone he has been longing for, and for a ridiculously long time I might add? The person he has been dreaming of? Has been craving?
Eve must have been the most beautiful thing he had ever laid eyes on. And better yet, she was the only one in the whole world who could fill his deep desire for relationship. Yes, God was around, but God seemed to have created us with a need to have community with other humans. Working as a counselor for 5 years now, that is just basic knowledge. It is obvious that we are designed to crave closeness to others.
I imagine that to Adam, Eve was a treasure he would guard with all of his heart. It also makes one wonder if Adam would have appreciated Eve as much if he would have just gotten her right away. What if they were created at the same time? I bet there would have been a lot more bickering while they were trying to name the animals together. God gave Adam just what he needed at just the right time. Sometimes it is the waiting for something that makes that something that much better.
This connects to food. We live in a culture where food is taken for granted every single day. We live with a McDonald's on every corner. The mystery and beauty of food has been taken from us. We don't see how it is grown, where it is grown or even, for the most part, how it is prepared. We often just see the end result and then we eat it. Even all of my trips to the grocery store and time spent prepping food pale in comparison to what my great-grandmother went through to put food in my grandma's belly.
Since going vegan, my families' diet consists of much more wholesome foods. The processed foods we have eaten in the past have significantly faded from our menu. However, with wholesome, comes time consuming. It takes much more time to rinse, soak and boil a bag of black beans than it does to microwave an Uncle Bens Instant Mexican Beans and Rice bag. Making a bowl of oatmeal takes more time than pouring a bowl of Life. And making homemade polenta takes more time than boiling a bag of pasta. Of course I am not talking about 100 years worth of time, but you get the connection.
All of the extra time and energy has been worth it for a multitude of reasons, but one of my favorite reasons is that I just enjoy my food more. Something about the delay of gratification and the work I put into my food makes my meals more delicious. Now more than ever before do I find a certain degree of joy with the food that is on my plate. It seems that everything I make just tastes better.
What I am saying is that God had it right when He made Adam wait, having to work hard and wait for what one desires (like chili that tastes better the next day) definitely is the way to go. I urge you to take time and enjoy the process that is food. Savor the shopping, chopping and eating. I promise you will discover a joy in eating that you never had before.
And I too I will remember this next time I lament over having to chop yet another carrot.