I came across an article written by a minister in America who was bemoaning the culinary fascination with food that is described as “al dente”. What follows is based on that article. She started off by asking – “What is the point? For example, to cook asparagus so briefly that it still comes out bright green and able to stand up on its own. Why even go to the trouble of cooking it? If you are in such a hurry to finish, why not just eat it raw? The same goes for other vegetables too.”
Many of you probably know that I quite enjoy cooking – but I don’t think I do al dente – well not intentionally anyway. As Scots, do we not actually cook our food? We stew things, boil things, we simmer things. It will be no surprise to you that I like curries, and enjoy cooking them – but they take time – and a number of recipes are only successful if time is taken to let the spices interact with the meat or vegetables and so after mixing, very often the meat and spices are left for a time. Tastes even better the next day!
The writer continued by saying that “New Year is all about living life al dente.” And although we are now two months into 2010, perhaps it is a good time to reflect on this. New Year is very often a time for gearing up, about planning for the future (even if it is only to book a holiday!) Many people make New Year’s resolutions; how many of you make lists? Perhaps we think of ways we can be more productive, more efficient, more successful; we plan what we can do now, what we can be now, how can we improve life now. Now, now, now!
I think the writer has a point when she said that perhaps the lesson for 2010 is not to speed up, but to slow down. Not to rush, but to take a slower, more deliberate pace to life.
Continuing the analogy – “Life tastes better when slow cooked”. For example, if I quickly cook the curry, all the garlic and cumin and coriander flavours would be lost. And it’s the same with life. When we live life al dente, we miss all the surrounding ingredients: when we rush and don’t take time, we are in danger of missing the beauty of things around us; we miss the things that matter; we miss the people who need our help.
Jesus’ life was the perfect example of not doing things al dente. His ministry was based on a slow, deliberate approach to life. He wasn’t harnessed to a rigid pattern of living. He didn’t use a mobile phone or Twitter. He just walked and went at a pace that he noticed the things around him; the farmer sowing in his field; Zacchaeus in the sycamore tree; the blind man by the roadside; the woman at the well.
Living life at a quick al dente pace could cause us to walk past the things that made Jesus stop.
If you have made a resolution and broken it, why not make one today. For the rest of 2010, think about the marinating of the curry. Think about Jesus and his ministry. Why not simmer over life rather than rush through it. Let’s make a resolution right now: NO al dente in 2010! Life is just better when it’s slow cooked.