For as long as I’ve been in the kitchen, I noticed how joyful people were to eat my food. If I was feeling kinda depressed when I was younger, I would watch my family cook. They were always so happy when they were cooking.
The kitchen was officially the happy spot.
I’d go try to recreate my dad’s or my grandma’s recipes and it would bring me so much joy at some of my darkest times.
When I was bullied in high school and nearly sexually assaulted, the kitchen was my safe space.
One day after a stressful day, I walked into the house and my dad was cooking one of his favorite dishes “Pelau.” Just smelling the food and his company made it better.
You see, my dad had such a funny way of saying the right thing to make you feel better. I believe it was also a form of therapy. I can recall after him and my mom split, I came to the house, and he was having such a hard time that he couldn’t compose himself. Guess what we did? My Dad and I headed to the kitchen. This was the first time in my life that I ever see my father shed a tear. We bonded over a good pot of fish broth as he cried and told me how sad he was because my mom left. This was heartbreaking for me. My daddy was in a dark place, but again, the kitchen is what brought us together.
Any time I had one of my notorious run ins with my grandmother, I would retreat to the kitchen and whip up something delicious. The responses to my food made me feel valuable. They reminded me of my worth. I knew, in those moments, that I contributed something so positively to the people around me.
Fast forward to current times, when I’m overwhelmed you can find me in the kitchen. It takes my stress away. The aroma of spices and the colorful ingredients can transport me to a happier time. Sweet memories of my grandma and my dad are so closely tied to baking, grilling, sautéing.
My clearest memory of how special cooking is to me, is the first time I made Aloe Pie. Mixing the ingredients, needing the dough. It was my Aloe Pie that brought family together. That is a feeling I will never forget.
The first meal I made for my husband… lets just say I stole his heart that day with my stewed chicken.
Some artists work with paint or clay. My works of art are full of flavor, color, and most importantly love. Love for the people I hold dearest.
When I cook, my mind is able to focus on the task at hand and I allow the aromas, textures, colors, and sounds to consume me. Time seems to slow down. Even after the food is served, I’m filled with peace and calm. If I was stressing before I started cooking, afterwards I’m able to think more clearly. The running faucet, the sizzle of the pan. These are like music to me. As a dancer becomes consumed by the rhythm of the song they are dancing to, I allow myself to absorb and fold into the rhythm I create in the kitchen.
My food is always something I am proud of. I have such a sense of pride when I look at a finished dish. The way the colors and flavors blend….
When I’m homesick, that’s when I really turn it up. I put on some Soca music and fire up the pots and pans. Enjoying the beautiful rhythm of the music and the kitchen, I create dishes that honor my heritage and warm my spirits. It’s like a culinary long distance call. I’m flooded by memories of family gatherings and loved ones that are too far away to hug.
I want to ask you an important question.
What is your thing?
Does it give you a sense of purpose?
How do you relieve stress?
Everyone has some kind of therapy, a hobby, an interest that fills their cup. The key to balance is not only finding what brings you peace but making time to do those things. Prioritize you.
Find that special thing that you can throw yourself into. It is there that you can find solace and grounding for everything that gets you down. This is an act of love for the essence of who you are. Immersing yourself in activities that fill your cup, can become a constant reminder of the positive impact that only you can bring to the world and to those around you.
WIshing you peace and prosperity
Recently, Aisha shared her recipe for Curry Jackfruit. Be sure to let us know if you try it out.
During the month of April, Mommination will be highlighting articles from our audience sharing their experiences during Sexual Assault Awareness week. We are so thankful to Aisha for sharing one of the many ways she has learned to cope through her healing. It is our hope that everyone who is a survivor finds a safe place to share their story.