Make the time

As a latch key kid in a working class immigrant family, I grew up quite independently. I am the eldest of three (actually, eight, but that’s another story), having to learn how to cook for myself as early as 5 years old, then cooking for my younger brothers as well. Cooking and eating was always about what was convenient.

I started working while I was in high school, and I worked all throughout college. Time was always scarce. By the time I had my first job as a high school teacher, lunch break was rarely long enough for me to breathe. When I started training to become and then became a doctor, I mastered eating (and sleeping) standing up, inhaling my food in 5 minutes. By then, I’d accepted that food was not meant to be enjoyed. It was fuel, and the best I could hope for was that it tasted okay.

Life has changed significantly since then. Constantly on the run, I felt totally disconnected from my body and developed a number of health issues. My body was screaming at me to change my lifestyle, which meant that I needed to treat it like it was the treasure it is. For me, that started with exercising for joy and eating for pleasure, and slowing down and being more present and intentional in my day.

For me, presence and intention manifests in what I can make with my hands, and food is one of those things. Granted, cooking can be a luxury. Like many luxuries, it takes resources, whether that’s time, money, access, or experience. Coming from a country where canned meat is king, cooking with fresh ingredients truly feels like a blessing, and making the time to cook and eat with such presence has become a luxurious spiritual experience.

I was marinating mackerel in miso that I plan to broil in a couple of days. I thought I’d take a stab at concocting my own version of pork belly braised in miso-butter:

Pork belly braised in a miso-butter sauce, served with homemade pickles and white rice.

These days, especially because I like to develop my own recipes and am constantly tweaking them, I take the time to plate my food and savor what I’m eating. And more often than not, this experience is worth savoring.

Author: Marz

⪻ she | siya ⪼
I am a 1.5 generation Filipino-Chinese American immigrant, born in Makati and raised in Southern California. I write, paint, cook, express. Professionally, I am with a national nonprofit organization working on public health, behavioral health, and health justice issues. My background is in education, research, medicine, and health policy and law. Casually, I am a cat lady.
 Based in Los Angeles, California.

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