Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Professor Loves Ginger

I ran up the avenue, past the governors mansion to where the street pools around a center island of grass, with just enough forrest in the center to cut a path for runners. Shielded from the towering brick suburb around me, nestled in the cool shade of the trees, the sound of cars coming and going reminds me of waves as they build to a roar and then disappear. I can't remember when it started, but suddenly my thoughts were consumed with salad. Vegetables left in my refrigerator at home tossed themselves together and presented themselves in various configurations. 
Suddenly two faces appeared in the path before me followed by a bright yellow T-shirt, a grey T-shirt, an iced tea bottle, two men walking, an arm waving in the air...Where was I? The brilliant green and yellow of spring and the warmth of the sun poured in, waking me from my trance. 
I was already talking to my two friends that I had run into on the path as I tried to mentally reconstruct the story of the last hour. Where am I, how did I get this far without noticing? It was as if my mind was unable to accept the prospect of it's own absence for that length of time, and I was consequentially lost on a street that I traverse almost daily.
I have often heard people describe mindless eating as being a similar experience. You eat lunch and suddenly find yourself not remembering what you ate, or even if you have eaten. You are happily enjoying your own crunching sounds with a movie faintly taking place before your eyes when you reach into the bowl and come up empty handed, where did it all go? 
In 1937 M.F.K Fisher accused Americans as eating "with a glum urge for food to fill us. We are ignorant of flavour. We are as a nation taste-blind" 
Recently, at the urging of one of my professors, I tried the experiment of mindfully eating a raisin: 
Sit comfortably in your chair with a raisin placed on the table before you. Relax and bring your awareness to your breath. Observe the raisin sitting on the table. Notice it. Reeeeally notice it. Imagine it as a grape, being ripened by the sun. Maybe visualize its slow transformation. Pick the raisin up and taste it with your fingers. What does it feel like? Does it have a smell? After spending some time experiencing the color, texture and smell, put it in your mouth and allow yourself to salivate. What flavors are released as you roll the raisin between your tongue and the roof of your mouth. Really try to listen to the flavors. Now chew once. Experience the flavors as the skin of the raisin explodes. 
For years I have eaten raisins. I have eaten them the way I eat most things most of the time, in my car, in class, while walking, while typing. I realize now that I had no idea what a raisin actually tasted like. I think I might never eat raisins again.

This salad is in honor of today's run, the nectarine is the sweet smell of flowers, the soy sauce for the salty taste of sweat, and the ginger is the moment of awakening.  
The dressing: 1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger (I use my cuisinart mini)
1 1/2 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
3 Tbsp sunflower oil
1 1/2 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp honey
1/2 fresh nectarine
blend well. 

The salad: 
wash 1 head of red leaf lettuce and chop into bite sized pieces
add 1-2 cups sliced grape tomatoes (if you like them add more)
3 carrots, sliced thin (you can ask to sample produce before you buy it from the grocery store. Even if all carrots were originally created equal they are not all equal by the time they get to you)
1/2 pkg broccoli or alfalfa sprouts

Christina's vote: "We are all on a journey to experience life fully- this salad made me a little closer to full"

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