The Calm Kitchen: A Dose of Joy
The Calm Kitchen is a series based on the theme of my cookery class of the same name - how cooking is therapeutic and makes us feel better, even when we don’t feel like it . It will look at other areas such as mindfulness, intuitive eating, and celebrate the small pleasures of life that are cooking and good food.
With the news dominated by Brexit and other grim real world events there’s a need for some soothing and pleasant escapism. My latest podcast discovery - Simple Pleasures by Yotam Ottolenghi is exactly that. The idea is that he chats to guests while serving them dishes from his new book, Simple. It’s extremely relaxing.
Braised eggs with leeks and za’atar, hot charred cherry tomatoes with cold yoghurt and welsh bread, cakes and cheeses were all on the menu Yotam Ottolenghi served up to Hamilton creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda and his wife Vanessa Nadal on his new podcast, Simple Pleasures. The podcast accompanies the book he released last year, Simple. The idea is for him to cook dishes from his book for his guests, while discussing the simple pleasures of life…food, mainly.
It’s the ultimate comfort listen, perfect for a weekend morning in the kitchen. His guests are my dream dinner party guests, the fantasy pals I want to share a bottle of wine with at the kitchen table. I listened to his episode with Lin Manuel Miranda, the creator and writer of Hamilton musical, and his wife Vanessa Nadal.
“What does simple cooking mean to you?”
For some it's preparing in advance, for others it's a short ingredient list. Ottolenghi himself is well know for his recipes with long lists of Middle Eastern ingredients. For him, easy cooking is about how relaxed you are in the kitchen. It's about ease, not easy. He talks about how he always advises home cooks to cook dishes you're really comfortable with, the ones you've done hundreds of times. Don't be over-ambitious for the sake of impressing your guests.
To Lin (we’re on first name terms), it's an analogy to a performance you’ve never rehearsed - an anxiety dream come to life. When cooking for others, he advises cooking dishes that you know well and are comfortable in preparing.
They talked about the similarities in their work - comparing the difference between working on a movie for months and performing in a nightly show - with writing a cookbook and cooking in a restaurant. They both require different types of energy and creativity. The long-term projects create a different type of reward to the immediate feedback and recognition of an in-the-moment performance.
You can tell they’re pals from the warmth of the show and their camaraderie, it’s a lovely listen.