I recently had the pleasure of coming across a new conscious-cooking book from Thom Eagle, titled “Eagle’s “First, Catch: Study of a Spring Meal”.
It’s a truly enlightening book that does so much more than the typical cookbook. In fact I mayeven end up adding to my list of the best mindful cookbooks.
A truly inspiring book for anyone wanting to learn conscious cooking
I’m a firm believer that we should be mindful in the kitchen.
The kitchen is a place where all different cultures and countries, and all different elements of nature, come together. The vegetables in my fridge, for instance, are from all different countries and climates. Collectively, those vegetables are a reminder of how interconnected our world is. And that is precisely the sort of enlightening thought that Eagle inspires in his conscious cooking book First, Catch: Study of a Spring Meal. [available on AMAZON]
Eagle is an English chef and fermenter who says that when he thinks about cooking he doesn’t think in terms of recipes, but rather that cooking is “a record of social and emotional histories, rather than ironclad instructions.”
He describes the boiling of water as going from “calm ripple to volcanic eruption”.
If you ever read Dana Velden’s Finding Yourself In The Kitchen, you will know that there are many life lessons and inspirations that we can take out of cooking. And Eagle’s book take us further on that journey.
In 24 chapters he elucidates us about all the different elements that go into making a spring meal. And not just in terms of the sheer ingredients and procedures necessary to cook the meal, but rather all the different things about which we can be mindful.
There is a beautiful section in which he describes the boiling of water as going from “calm ripple to volcanic eruption”. And the way he discussed vegetables makes us conscious of how each vegetable is like a part of life and nature.
The elemental act of cooking is chiefly the act of moving water from one place to another.
Of course, there are also tips on general cooking. Some of which I do not agree with. For instance, he states that we should not be worried about using lots of salts. Not only is this unhealthy but it is also, in my opinion, lazy cooking, because there are always ways to get deep flavours healthily without just smattering salt into things.
He does share a beautiful description of water, which he calls the “beginning of things… the elemental act of cooking is chiefly the act of moving water from one place to another.” And he explains that the fundamental choice when preparing a meal is whether to cook it with water or without (boiling compared to roasting, for instance).
But what I love most about this book isn’t the mechanical teachings on cooking, but rather Eagle’s passion for his craft and the inspiration I get from his conscious writing. He makes you feel more conscious of cooking in all its forms. Food is not simply a list of ingredients, it is a much deeper, spiritual thing.
The book is rendered inspiring by virtue of Eagle’s poetic prose. While conversational, he has clearly put as much thought into his language as he has into his cooking. The result is splendorous. Then again, Eagle did major in American Literature so perhaps this is to be expected.
I must highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning conscious cooking. Even though I am not certain whether Eagle’s primary goal was to make us more mindful in the kitchen, per say, he nevertheless achieves this in spades.
A gorgeous book that will inspire you to start cooking consciously, with a new passion for the true nature of food.