The other day, I shared with some of my friends on Facebook that I was starting work on my first book, Gastrospirituality. It will build off what I have been writing here in The Zenful Kitchen and be a blend of recipes, stories, and spiritual insights gained from the ingredients, preparation, and stories behind the food.
One of my friends asked if I needed intestinal testimonies. I was not quite sure what he meant by that. I wasn’t sure whether he was asking if I needed people to taste and evaluate the recipes or whether I was wanting to know about how one’s intestines were responding to the food. His response was “We want it to sell, not smell.”
While there is clearly some humor here, there is also a sense of seriousness around preparing foods in a way that does not contribute to an after smell or sound. We all have ways of talking about flatulence. Some cart them farts, others passing gas, breaking wind, and a friend of mine talks about being musical.
There are some foods, which seem to facilitate people being flatulent, like beans, cabbage, broccoli, prunes, raisins, and cauliflower because they are harder for our bodies to digest. However, often times it is not what we eat, but how we eat which causes us to fart. One of those things is speed eating or drinking. Sometimes we need to slow down because we eat or drink too fast. I remember growing up being told I should chew my food 30 times before swallowing it. Doing so not only facilitates the body’s ability to digest food, but it ensures we are swallowing less gas in the process.
Thich Nhat Hanh talks about being present while we eat, savoring each moment, and being present with the food. He challenges one to eat mindfully. With each bite taste the flavors, inhale the aromas, be mindful of the textures, and be mindful of all who were involved in bringing this food to your plate.
Slowing down the speed with which one eats or drinks will not only decrease one’s personal level of gaseousness, but also enable one to more fully experience what the various foods and beverages have to offer. One of the things I have learned to do when cooking foods that are high in sulfur and thus capable of producing more gas then others is to add a teaspoon or less of epazote to my high sulfur dishes. It is not always easy to find fresh epazote, but dried epazote is far more accessible. Simply adding a little epazote, a Mexican herb, can ward off some of the less pleasant effects of eating foods high in sulfur.
Adding epazote can help with those ingredients that are high in sulfur. However, by simply changing how we eat and drink we can help things to not only have less after smell and sound, but also transform our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual experience of the meal.