AUTHOR & CHEF
COOKING WITH LOVE ACTUALLY MAKES A DIFFERENCE! By Sheena Serrão
Have you ever eaten a dish made by your mother or grandmother and thought to yourself, “Why does it taste so much better when she makes it?” You might think about it for some time and the only explanation that comes to mind is, “It was cooked with love!”
Some scientists believe the reasons behind this phenomenon are psychological. That food prepared by people you associate good feelings with, automatically tastes better. Anything your mother or grandmother cooks has a secret ingredient. The thought, the feeling, the intention, of LOVE.
Dr. Kurt Gray elaborates on the social psychology research findings which underlie this belief, in his 2011 TedxSanDiego Talk. He states, “Many of the experiences that make up our lives—pain, pleasure and even taste—hinge on how we see the minds of others.” Dr. Gray goes on to give examples of studies which suggest that when we perceive other people’s intentions to be positive, we experience more pleasure when they do good things for us (like cooking for us) or less pain when they do us wrong (accidentally hurting us). He goes on to say, “…what these studies suggest then, is that our experience of the world hinges on the intentions of other people”.
But for thousands of years in ancient civilizations and various religions, holding positive intentions in the mind has been a traditional practice. Even in the preparation and sharing of meals. It is believed that the nutritional and healing properties of the food is increased when infused with positive intentions; usually through blessings and prayers. Not only is it beneficial to the body, but to the mind and spirit, also.
Whether you think it’s a purely subjective psychological experience or something that can be created through a deeper mind-body-spirit connection, one thing is certain, the effects are both real and beneficial.
It’s what Meadow and Denise Linn call “The Secret Alchemy of Food” in The Mystic Cookbook, which they co-authored. The Mystic Cookbook is a recipe book unlike any other. In it, this mother-daughter duo combine Meadow’s long-time love of cooking with Denise’s vast knowledge of ancient traditions and spiritual ceremonies to create something interesting, beautiful and magical. The Mystic Cookbook endeavours to help us incorporate the connection between nourishment and spiritual awakening, positive emotions, and heightened conscious experiences into our lives.
I am very aware that how we grow, manufacture, cook and eat our food has major effects on the health of our planet and ourselves. So, I was curious about The Mystic Cookbook and how it might be able help us create a more wholesome, balanced lifestyle. Karuna Worldwide was very happy to interview the lovely Meadow Linn and find out more about The Mystic Cookbook and her Savor The Day blog.
Q&A WITH MEADOW LINN
Sheena: Hi Meadow! I had so much fun the first time we spoke. Your joy is infectious!
Before we talk about your cookbook and Savor The Day, let’s talk a little bit about your background. You double-majored in English and French and received your master’s degree in French Cultural Studies from Columbia University. You also taught French for 8 years. But you were always passionate about cooking. When did you turn your love of cooking into a career and why?
Meadow: I’ve been passionate about cooking for as long as I can remember. My earliest childhood memories take place in the kitchen. The summer after I graduated from high school I began doing the cooking for my mom’s workshops and retreats. I would cook for anywhere between 15 and 30 people, three meals a day, for up to two weeks. I’ve been doing that for about nineteen years now. My love for food led me to write my master’s thesis on the history and sociology of eating in France, which was really fun to research.
However, after completing my graduate work in Paris, I moved back to the States and took a job teaching French. I loved teaching, but I also felt like there was something missing. I wanted to spend more than just my summers cooking, so in 2009 I took a big leap of faith and quit my teaching job. It was really scary. It was a great job with good benefits. But, I also knew deep down that I needed to take that leap. It hasn’t always been easy, but it’s also been a remarkable journey.
Sheena: Not only have you been cooking for your mother’s retreats, you also teach at a prestigious cooking school in Mexico, as well as offer private workshops. What are some of the things you teach in these classes?
Meadow: I love teaching cooking; it’s a wonderful marriage of my past career as a schoolteacher with my work now as a chef and recipe developer. My classes vary greatly depending on the desires of the participants. Sometimes they’re skill based, sometimes they’re about cooking together in community, and sometimes they’re more focused on the spiritual side of cooking. I love creating theme meals. For instance, while teaching at La Cocina Que Canta in Mexico I’ve taught classes on Moroccan and Asian cuisines, but also I’ve had a lot of fun with my rainbow and chakra cooking classes.
Sheena: Are similar topics covered in The Mystic Cookbook? Tell us more about the book itself.
Meadow: Yes, many of the recipes and topics that I teach in my cooking classes come from The Mystic Cookbook. For instance, in the book we talk about something called Legendary Meals. These are the kinds of meals that are often based around a theme, either a specific cuisine, time in history, or location in the world. We pair the music, the décor, and the place settings to all fit the theme.
However, these meals are much more than that…they can be transformative. In a Legendary Meal all of your senses are activated and you’re filled with heightened awareness. These are the kinds of meals you will remember for a lifetime. In The Mystic Cookbook we provide step-by-step instructions for creating such feasts, and we also offer some recipe suggestions as well.
Sheena: Now, usually when discussing healthy eating habits, let alone setting intentions for your meals, the first thing people say is, “I don’t have time for all of that!” Also, healthy food can be especially expensive and difficult to find in cities, cafeterias and office buildings. What is your advice for people who feel overwhelmed by an already busy schedule or restrictive settings?
Meadow: Good food is generally more expensive and it does take time to make healthy home-cooked meals. I’m not going to deny that. And, many of us are really busy and sometimes all we want to do is veg out when we get home after a long day of work. However, believe it or not, eating well is a mindset. We make choices every day about how we spend our money and how we spend our time.
I choose to spend money on quality ingredients and take time to cook them with love. I do this because it brings me joy, and the delicious homemade food makes me feel good both spiritually and physically. That’s a choice I have made. When I take the time to slow down and eat mindfully, I actually find that I have more time and energy, because taking the time to nurture and cherish myself fills my inner reserves.
Plus, the healthy food is full of nutrition and that fuels me too. However, I sometimes get takeout, and I suggest you do too when you’re exhausted or just need a break. But, when I get takeout, I always remove the food from the carton and put in on a nice plate, and then I say a blessing or hold my hands over the food for a few seconds and offer gratitude to the farmer, the cook, and to the food itself.
Sheena: Sometimes it just boils down to appreciating the moment and savoring your days, which is what your blog Savor The Day is about! It’s also the basis of your regular contributions to Nature & Health (Australia), InSpirit Magazine (Australia) and a column you write for a Seattle newspaper. I know you post original recipes on the blog, along with the personal stories that you share. Can you elaborate on that?
Meadow: Writing Savor the Day brings me so much joy. It combines three things I love: food, writing, and photography. But, it’s more than that. It’s a vehicle for sharing my passion for what I like to call, “Living Deliciously.” Each day we are presented with special moments and beautiful sights; however, usually we’re too busy to see them or appreciate them. My mission with Savor the Day is to share my journey and my quest for reaping as much joy from each day as possible.
There’s a wonderful quote from a man named Stuart Dybek. In it he talks about looking up at the stars and realizing that the big moments in our lives, such as graduation, marriage, buying a house, having a baby, etc. are represented by a star. But, the lines we draw between the stars, to create the constellation images (bear, saucer, etc.) are actually what make up our lives. We tend to live for the big moments, but our life is happening right now, every day. Food is a big part of savoring the day. Eating is something we do every single day. The more we savor our food, believe it or not, the more we savor our lives.
Sheena: You also recently started posting Savory Sound Bite video clips on your Facebook page. They’re short ‘n sweet and always offer a positive perspective. I’m always smiling by the end! What’s the intention behind those?
Meadow: Thanks for asking about the Savory Sound Bites. I've been having so much fun with this new project. Each video is about 30-60 seconds long. In each one I share something that I’m savoring at that very moment. I challenged myself to make one a day for an entire month. It’s been an amazing opportunity to slow down and spend time thinking about what brings me joy each day.
Sheena: So the cookbook, the blog and the culinary classes all fall under The Mystic Chef®, which you co-founded, is that correct?
Meadow: The Mystic Cookbook is a type of spiritual chef apprenticeship. In the book my mom and I offer numerous suggestions, tips, and activities that you can use to heighten your awareness to make cooking and eating a spiritual experience. There’s a section on using color to expand consciousness, another chapter touches on ways that you can use affirmations to bring more love, joy, and even abundance into your life through your cooking, and there’s even some information about using crystals to magnify your intentions.
It’s not a cookbook in the ordinary sense of the word. It’s really more of a cookbook for life. For those who are interested in going even deeper into these concepts and having hands-on experiences, we offer cooking classes and spiritual cooking workshops and also a certification training to become a Mystic Chef®.
Sheena: And where can we find out more about all of these things that you’re working on? What would be the best way for everyone to get updates?
Meadow: The best way to stay up-to-date with events, workshops, and classes is to sign up for my newsletter (I also include recipes!). There’s a signup on my website www.meadowlinn.com. When you sign up, you will get a free mp3 of a meditation by my mom called, “Connect with Your Kitchen Angel.” I also love connecting on Facebook (www.facebook.com/MeadowLinn). My blog is www.savortheday.com
Sheena: Well Meadow, thank you so much for doing this interview for Karuna Worldwide! It was such a pleasure!
Meadow: Thank you so much! It’s been a joy and an honor.
Published June 16, 2015