Recovery, like a herd of turtles stampeding through peanut butter, is a gradual process. Every day has its ups and downs, but some things you can count on – like eating. I find cooking to be therapeutic, even meditative. My mindfulness increases with the smell of freshly pressed garlic, or the sensation of tearing up while cutting into raw onions. Tasting throughout the cooking process reminds me where the ingredients came from and where the dish is going.
To get out of the pan for a moment, let’s compare cooking and recovery. When reduced to a chore, both cooking and going to meetings can become tedious. At the bare minimum, chicken can be plainly baked with some chopped lettuce on the side. Sure, it gets the job done, but there is potential to be so much more, like an aromatic chicken pozole topped with bright, red radishes. Similarly, we can sit silently at the back of a room for an hour, listening to people talk, or we can engage with other folks at the meeting. Sharing and relating in company of others, just like eating together, can be surprisingly satisfying.
I’m very grateful to make the most out of my opportunity at Riverbank. The raw ingredients and the tools (both in recovery and in cooking) are provided and the rest is what we make of it. All the grocery shopping and all the cooking is done by teams of residents. After all, these life-skills must be used to maintain a well-balanced, enjoyable life. Otherwise, recovery slips far too easily into an obligation rather than an opportunity to help yourself and others. Tonight’s menu is Ropa Vieja, the national dish of Cuba, with slow cooked beef topped with roasted red peppers, green olives, and capers. If you’re going to cook some food, cook some food. That’s how this foodie sees it, at least.