Emotions in Cooking

Stewed chicken

When it comes to cooking, many are familiar with the phrase ‘you put your foot in it’ basically to pay a compliment to the chef that demonstrated their expertise in preparing a really great meal.  Could it be the technique of the chef or their emotion that might be evoked through the food?  In either case it’s certainly worth the conversation.


I remember watching the film Like Water for Chocolate (1992) which told the story of a young woman whose meals where affected by her emotions. So certain ingredients that ended up in the pot, like her tears when she was sad, or rose petals when she was in love, resulted in those same emotions being demonstrated by her family and friends when they consumed the food.  Immediately, the thought of a person so moved by food that they are compelled to demonstrate a specific emotion, fascinated me.


As I began to cook more regularly after seeing that movie, I promised myself that I would pay more attention to the way I was feeling when I was preparing a meal.  I not only did that with myself, but with family members when I would go home to visit. Currently, I’m in Los Angeles visiting my parents and watching as my father is in the kitchen preparing his famous pork roast. I could see the level of focus on his face.  His intensity in chopping cilantro, garlic, and other items. He seemed to be in a great mood. I took this all in and ‘felt’ that he wanted to make this meal special, even though I know that he’s made it many times before and he could so it in his sleep.  Along with the pork roast, he knocked out rice, beans with smoked neckbones, and stewed chicken.  All which turned out awesome.


I believe that this is demonstrated in the restaurant world also.  If a chef is stressed, or not focused it can show in the preparation of a dish. Perhaps the measurement of a specific ingredient was incorrect, or maybe that last minute idea doesn’t marry the flavors that they hoped for.  Often times they are self-critical and apologetically, will state this was an off day.  For the most part we do experience the happy, caring, joyful emotions when we go to restaurants.


Infuse your cooking with good thoughts for your loved ones, and those you care for.  Demonstrating an enthusiasm for cooking, preparing it lovingly will come across naturally and encourage anyone that eats what you prepared, to love and love your food as well.



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