By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat
There is an ingredient that makes all food taste better. It is not MSG. This ingredient also makes your food healthier. It is not a vitamin or mineral. This ingredient also makes it easier to cook the food, and makes the cooking more enjoyable. It is not a cooking gadget. Where can you buy this ingredient? You can’t. But you can create it. And it is free.
This secret ingredient is to maintain a cheerful, happy, loving, thankful attitude while you cook.
I know this kind of attitude is totally opposite from the competitive frenzy shown on so many cooking shows. These shows imply that good food is created through stress, conflict, complex cooking techniques, time pressure, and competition. I consider this modern attitude to be the psychic equivalent of factory food. But I know the ancient secret.
I came across this ancient secret while I was researching my cookbook, Tender Grassfed Meat. I read a number of old cookbooks, from every corner of Europe, America, and other parts of the world. Time and time again I came across this advice, in dozens of old cookbooks, from many different countries, expressed in many ways—never, ever cook when you are angry or upset. Be cheerful, happy, and grateful while you cook.
I also remembered the story of Marya Palma. Marya Palma was the family cook for my grandparents. My grandfather, an eater of mythic proportions, ate a meal at her tiny restaurant in Poland. The meal was so good that he paid her a small fortune to travel to his home in Manchuria and cook for him. Marya Palma was a huge, combative, formidable woman who had known great tragedy in her life, and was afraid of nothing and nobody. But when Marya Palma cooked, she was happy and cheerful. Marya Palma was such a magnificent cook that it was common for the guests to carry all 300 pounds of her around the dining room after a dinner, the ultimate tribute they could give to a cook.
Since I kept reading this advice, over and over again, I decided to take it. That was a very good decision indeed.
First, I plan the cooking so as to minimize any chance of being angry or upset. I select a recipe I have time for. I prepare and organize all the ingredients so they are pre-measured and ready to be added when the time comes. I do not start cooking until everything is in its place.
I learned to create this cheerful attitude by focusing on the food and thinking about its benefits. I look at the good ingredients, think of where they came from, of how much work and effort and wisdom it took to raise this good food, which will nourish and sustain the lives of me and my family. I think of how the real, healthy food I cook will nourish my family and friends. I think of how this good food will make them stronger and healthier. I think of how much they will enjoy the tasty food. And, to be honest, I think of how much I will enjoy the food. After a few minutes of this, I am quite cheerful and happy. I maintain this attitude by paying attention to the food as it cooks. I watch the changing colors of the browning meat, the deep green color of perfectly cooked vegetables. I listen to the sounds the food makes as it cooks. I smell the enticing smells of cooking meat, as my mouth waters. Good food appeals to all our senses. All we have to do is pay attention.
I became a much better cook when I added this free ingredient.
I know this may sound mystical, and there is no way to prove this through science, but I truly believe that the happy, cheerful feelings I cook with somehow improve the food, making it healthier, more digestible, and certainly tastier. Traditional wisdom supports my belief.
If you add this free ingredient to your food, I predict that your food will taste better. Everything you cook will taste better, and you will enjoy cooking so much more.
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