My day. It has not been stellar. First of all, I am exhausted. Last night, my husband’s chest cold-induced snoring, punctuated by bouts of coughing and sneezing, meant we were both deprived of a restful night’s sleep. At least he had the velvet embrace of NyQuil to take the edge off. As for me, I tossed and turned, fitful and fretful, finally relocating to the couch where the crick in my neck finally gave way to a few minutes of sleep that were promptly interrupted by a recurring car alarm.
As you can imagine, I wasn’t feeling particularly rosy this morning, and so I made myself a breakfast that felt a little special: scrambled eggs with smoked trout, sautéed leeks, and cream cheese. Carrying my plate of eggs in one hand and my favorite oversized mug (filled to the brim with tea) in the other, I approached the dining table where I planned to ease into the day by perusing a few blogs over breakfast. Just as I set my plate on the table beside my computer, the handle broke off the mug I was holding. The mug crashed onto my plate, shattering it and covering the table, floor, and my breakfast in hot tea, while I shouted an expletive that even I typically reserve for special occasions. (Thankfully, my computer was spared—no small mercy, considering how much I rely on the damn thing.)
Cursing, I went to retrieve a mop from the hall closet. As I took the mop out of the closet, it knocked a box of Christmas bows and holiday cards from the shelf, scattering them all over the floor of the closet. More expletives.
For the rest of the day, I couldn’t quite seem to find a rhythm. My practice session felt futile, and I didn’t make it to the gym. My mood vacillated between bored and antsy, with an undercurrent of self-loathing, because—let’s face it—I was just engaged in some self-indulgent moping. Nothing of any real significance had even gone wrong! I was just off-kilter and terribly out of sorts.
This afternoon, I found myself in the kitchen, as I often do, when I’m in a cranky, at-loose-ends kind of mood. On autopilot, I began peeling and dicing butternut squash, a few Granny Smith apples, and leeks, as I prepared a soup that has been one of my favorite go-to recipes for nearly fifteen years. I’ve made this soup for special occasions, for winter solace, and for visiting friends. I’ve written about this soup on this very blog, and whenever I make it, I’m reminded that our most beloved dishes are more than nutritional sustenance: they’re a balm for the soul.
I mean, sure, fancy-schmancy chefs are forever finding ways to reinvent the familiar, and to push the envelope of what “eating well” means. But for the rest of us, preparing food that is nourishing to the spirit as well as the body is a way of mending the fabric of a tattered day, of soothing frayed nerves and inviting simple pleasures to join us at the table and remind us that tomorrow is another day.
I’m going to ponder the alchemy of food and mood while I eat my soup—far away from my computer, mind you. And tomorrow will be a better day, I’m sure of it, because tomorrow there will be leftovers waiting in the fridge.