Here it is, Day 8 of 10 of The Master Cleanse. I have swallowed no solid food since Thursday evening, January 5. When I started this whole thing, it was an impulsive move. I had been reading about it and Pondering the idea of it and researching it, and then I just said, “What the hell, I have all the stuff I need here.” And I was drinking lemonade the next morning, staring ahead at ten long and unpleasant days.
But you know what? They haven’t been unpleasant at all, actually. Except for that salt water flush. Dear lord, that sucks. Yeah, I’ve had a couple of low energy days. I’ve had some headaches, the odd breakout or three, some aches and pains. And I have been more than a little Snippy. But I figure it’s what has to happen to truly detox after years of eating pretty much whatever the hell I wanted. Plus green smoothies. And I actually credit those with minimizing the detox symptoms.
Last Friday morning, I Informed The Beloved that I would not be cooking for him–or anyone–for the duration of the cleanse and he’d best remember how to make some ramen. Except for I said it sweetly. Sort of. And he, being supportive, completely understood and looked at me, worriedly and with Furrowed Brow, and asked, “Do you want me to do this with you?” Sweet, right? And I said, “No, sweetie. You have to work. I don’t think they’ll let you work in the bathroom.” He agreed. So, I fully intended to sit around, drink my lemonade and pound down my water, read, do some work, but stay Far Away from Food until Monday, January 16.
Guess what happened? I couldn’t. I couldn’t stay away. First, there was that chicken that had been defrosting that I needed to do something with. Then, there were the leftovers to deal with. And then last night I decided to make some cream of potato soup. Why? Because we had potatoes, and they needed to be used.
Here’s what I have realized. I really do cook out of love. Sure, I cook because I enjoy it, and I cook when I’m hungry. And I cook because I need Stuff to Blog About. But I had planned on just answering questions this week so I wouldn’t have to talk about food. And I knew that The Beloved would be completely fine cooking for himself. But cooking is one of the ways I show him that I love him.
Inside my soul lives a diminutive be-pearled June Cleaver who finds great satisfaction in feeding Ward a Square Meal when he gets home after a hard day at the office. And satisfaction in watching him enjoy it. And knowing that something I did made him feel that way. More than just a gobble-it-down-go-watch-the-game food-as-fuel. No, it’s a savor-it-tell-me-how-good-it-is food-as-love. And as much as Emeril sometimes gives me a headache, he is so right. Food of love. Food as love. Food is love. Call it what you will, but never has it been more clear to me that it is a driving factor behind my cooking as it has been since I’ve not been able to eat it.
It becomes a ritual offering rather than a meal. I offer what I’ve made to my Beloved, and I enjoy him enjoying it. It’s spiritual, in a way. I’m fasting, yet I am cooking to sustain him. To nourish him. To show him I love him.
I never felt this way at the restaurant, when I routinely made breads and desserts without eating them. I tasted all along, made sure they were up to my standards, and out the pass they went. But as much as I enjoyed being a “professional,” I was never connected to the guests. I didn’t love them. I was glad they were there, because if they hadn’t come in I wouldn’t have a job, but I didn’t feel a personal connection. A desire to feed their souls. Some people have it, and I am more than happy to let them do the restaurant work.
I now know that, in order for me to be fully engaged in the cooking and baking process, I really have to give a shit about those I’m cooking for. I have to want to see their faces light up. Watch them lick their lips and fingers with pleasure. Have them close their eyes in bliss when they taste a smooth, creamy potato soup. In order to do that at a restaurant, I’d have to meet and actually like all the diners. Right. No, while I am grateful for the experience, restaurant work is no longer for me.
This is what I’ve learned from The Master Cleanse. I am a home cook and baker. I cook for those I love. I cook because I love. Even when I can’t eat it myself.
- 2 teaspoons coconut oil
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- ½ red onion, rough chopped
- 1 rib celery, with leaves, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2½-3 cups chicken stock
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ¼-1/3 cup curry sauce (I used Kerala Curry's Kera Curry Sauce)
- water or stock to thin, if necessary
- In a medium sauce pan, heat the coconut oil and butter over medium heat.
- Add the onions and celery along with a heavy pinch of salt and pepper. Sweat for about 5 minutes.
- Turn up the heat and add the garlic, sauteing for a minute or two, or until the onions begin to take on some color.
- Pour in the chicken stock and add the diced potatoes.
- Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat. Simmer until potatoes are very tender, about 13-15 minutes.
- Puree with an immersion blender or in batches in a blender. Do not overblend or the potatoes will get a little gluey. Puree just until smooth. Strain or not. I didn't.
- Add the cream and the curry sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding a bit of water or stock if you want the soup a bit thinner.
- Garnish as desired. Serve hot.
PS Yes, seasoning has been a bit of a challenge, since I always taste as I go. I’ve been salting with a light touch so he can add at the table if necessary.