What I've Learned (So Far), Teaching Real People How to Enjoy Real Food..and What's Next.
So here's a few things I've learned since teaching The RESTART Program. Let's begin with the hard truth about myself:
I've learned that I consume a lot of sugar, more than I thought. I was never a "dessert guy", never had a "sweet tooth", never struggled with sugar cravings, so of course I assumed that teaching a sugar-detox class and leading by example would be easy. But No. Apparently I was in the habit of using quite a lot of sugar and syrup and honey to augment my savory dishes. But I didn't "know" it. BECAUSE IT WAS A HABIT. You can imagine how disorienting it was for me then, having to go without a pinch of sugar here, a slug of syrup there, and ok, let's face it, an avalanche of white powder here and there, for this sauce or that hot beverage.
Learning to cook without the crutch of added sweetners and to rely instead on the subtle flavors of fresher food and better spices, has been a huge area of personal growth for me. But I've found it liberating. Not just for my mind, but for my body. More than 50% of the chronic symptoms I thought were "normal" for me, have subsided. Students have said the same thing; some report 80% improvement, along with smaller pant sizes, less joint pain and more energy. (Interesting isn't it: we think sugar gives us energy, but it doesn't. Or it does, until it doesn't. Burning fatty acids on the other hand, releases more energy with less volatility—fewer crashes and cravings. Learn more about RESTART here).
I've learned some really big, meta-level things too (things that have me up at night thinking of a new project):
I've learned that the idea of Real Food is not intuitive. Not any more. We've been socialized to think of food as something that grows on shelves, something that's wrapped in pretty packages with reassuring health claims and sciencey language, and a half-life of a thousand years.
I've learned that when it comes to real food, we spend most of our time now re-educating our common sense, reacquainting ourselves with our bodies, learning the difference between hunger and appetite, and taking an honest inventory of our intentions.
I've learned that there are meal replacements, but no food replacements.
I've learned that preparation is key, that buddies are awesome, and that bodies will do amazing things if you give them half a chance.
But most importantly, I've learned that what stops people from cooking is not so much the absence of recipes, but the absence of a cooking culture—the scarcity of inherited knowledge that once shaped and supported us in the kitchen. I've learned that what people are really longing for is the culinary literacy of a bygone era, when folks knew how to braise, like they knew how to brush their teeth, because they had seen grandma do it a thousand times.
When it comes to food, there's simply a broad yearning for something better. I don't know how else to say it. But I want to address it. I want to create a resource that people can use to recapture a little of what's been lost since the birth of Big Food.
So here's what I'm thinking:
I want to produce an all-new cooking video series, focused on technique rather than recipes. And I know just the man for the job: Evan Hendrix.
Last fall, Evan opened up a world of possibility for me when I stood slack-jawed in his kitchen watching him break down a whole chicken, as easy as 1,2,3, and then go on to build a hearty chicken soup layer by layer, concentrating flavors and diversifying his salt/umami sources with ingenious things like fish sauce. People gotta know this stuff.
Evan has a passion for food and food values that he's gleaned from 6 years as a department manager at Whole Foods Market, and from teaching men to cook and hosting countless community dinners at his house (and from watching way too much Food Network).
So here's a list of 10 new Kitchen Voyeur episodes we have on the drawing board at BioFlourish:
Whole Cooking with Even Hendrix:
- Mise En Place: Clear Your Path. Remove Obstacles.
- How to Braise Anything
- How to Sauté Anything
- How to Grill Anything
- How to Break Down a Chicken
- How to Use a Cook's Knife Like a Cook
- How to Smell Everything
- How to Cook Seasonally and Make Substitutions
- All About Root Veggies
- How to Make Your Own Yogurt in 4 Steps or Less
Remember, this series will be all about transferable concepts, learning one thing that allows you do many things. It's based on the idea that if you know one technique, you know 20 recipes. So again, we'll focus on technique, not recipes.
For example, if you know how to braise beef, then you know how to braise lamb, chicken, root veggies, and anything else really. Likewise, if you know how to make Matsoni Yogurt, then you know how to make any yogurt.
I'm super excited about serving our community with these videos, especially given what I've learned first hand from real people and their challenges with cooking (including my own). Recipes are a dime a dozen. It's technique (and knowing how to think like a cook) that are the real back doors to cooking culture—or to a culture that cooks.
We want to create this resource for you, so you can reference it again and again until you've got it. My hope is that this will help create more shalom all around: body, mind, family, community, plants, animals, soil. They all converge on a plate of food. Cooking is connection.
I'm looking forward to it. We should be done shooting before Spring Break. So stay tuned...
Yours in Health and Resilience,