CrossFit has dramatically expanded my community. Not only do I have the pleasure of working out with anywhere from 2 to 12 (and sometimes more) people every day, but outside the gym, people I barely know approach me and ask about my working out. Who knew my muscles would be such a conversation starter?
And of course, most conversations with people I don't know or barely know include the question, "What do you do?"
Oh, the awkward moment for the stay at home mom. Part of me wants to say, "I don't work", but that's an outrageous lie. I work my behind off! I just don't work for money.
Lately I've answered, "I homeschool my two kids," which goes a long way towards explaining why I don't work outside of the home for money (and why I go to the gym every day).
But of course, I do so much more than homeschool, and I search for a more complete answer to the probing question, "What do you do?"
What is the main thing I do every day? What do I spend the majority of my time doing? What is my most important daily task?
Of all places, I found an answer in a cookbook.
"But a meal is an ethereal thing that requires a certain orchestration, and a lot of planets must be correctly aligned for it to succeed."
Platter of Figs by David Tanis. Oh what a lovely book by an insightful cook.
What do I do?
I align planets.
I orchestrate meals.
I perform the daily miracle of gathering my family around the table to eat.
Preparing food and getting my family to the dinner table is the most important thing I do every day, and certainly takes up the majority of my time. Nearly every task I perform during the day is a step in the direction of the dinner table.
I've been feeding my family for years, of course, but the ritual of the family meal has taken on a new gravity in the past year. Switching to a whole food diet, eliminating many of the fast and simple staples from our menu, elevated the family meal to an "ethereal thing". No longer do we stand around the kitchen island and slurp bowls of noodles, or plunk down in front of a movie and devour slice after slice of pizza. Our meals take time and effort to prepare, and so help me, we're going to sit down at the table, put a cloth napkin in our laps, and savor my labor.
Ever since I saw the movie, "Like Water for Chocolate", when I was 17, I've wanted my cooking to be magical. Now it is, simply because I believe.
I believe in what I'm eating and why.
I believe that feeding my family is the my most important task.
I believe that the dinner table is a sacred place.
I believe in the magic of the family meal.
Cooking is alchemy. Magic. Common substances of little value are transformed into something much greater. Quick pickled onions are a good example.
Take a red onion. Slice it as thin as you can.
Add the juice of one lemon and a sprinkle of salt.
Let it sit while you prepare dinner.
The simple onion will transform in color, flavor, and texture.
Add some sliced cucumbers and voila! You have a salad.
Or sprinkle your sliced red onion with apple cider vinegar (and a little salt). Take a taste after about half an hour. Imagine how good it would taste with some toasted walnuts, a chopped green apple, a few handfuls of baby spinach, a glug of olive oil, and a crackling of pepper. It tastes like magic.
And that, my friends, is what I do.