My daughter went vegan last summer and inspired me to do the same in the fall. But of course she did one better: she went RAW vegan for the first half of every day.
Wanting to support my new raw foodie, I booked us into a one-day raw-food “cooking” course at The Mathew Kenny Culinary School. Situated atop their incredible vegan restaurant, Plant Food + Wine, on the very hip and artistic Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice Beach, I figured we’d go in for a couple of hours and emerge with the basics: necessary equipment, food handling and a couple of recipes. Little did I know I was in for 5 hours of standing, chopping, grinding…and PURE HEAVEN.
Preparing raw food is an incredibly sensual thing to experience. Handling live plants, feeling the texture and taking in the aroma, becoming aware of the intricate and sometimes delicate patterns and colors in each and every plant is really amazing, sensual indeed. It’s time consuming, yes, but worth every minute. Who would have thought that zucchini, which I previously considered a little drab and, I don’t know, “spongy,” could be thinly sliced, brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and suddenly become a delectable tasting wrap, as pliable as pasta yet bursting with flavor. And when you lay in a simple “cheese” of ground macademia nuts and a simple pesto of arugula, mint, parsley and pine nuts, you get a beautiful “cannelloni” that tastes like it belongs in a five star restaurant. It isn’t one of those dishes that requires a strong ingredient to give it a singular blast of flavor, but rather a delicate journey where you take a bite and the flavors unfold independently in your mouth, allowing you to experience an array of sensations one at a time and yet so cohesively, each bite complimenting the next. And beautiful? Wow. Just check out my photos.
Yet as tasty, healthy and beautiful as it is, the power of preparing raw food isn’t as much the outcome as it is the process. It requires one to be so present, so in the moment, that the only thing that exists in the world for that moment is what’s right before you. For me, it was my amazing daughter, Sienna. For her, it was me: Mama Nia.
It was having Sienna wipe the cashew chai smoothie from my nose, and tease me about my incessant questioning. It was standing shoulder to shoulder with her as we pressed the raw crust of nuts, shredded coconut and agave into the pie tin together, unable to resist tasting and tasting and tasting along the way. She and I stood side my side, measuring, chopping, tasting, washing, blending for 5hours without one complaint or argument or the roll of an eye from either of us. That’s a huge accomplishment for a teenager and her mom.
We may have devoured that incredible 5 hour meal in 15 minutes. But it nourished our souls and our relationship for a lifetime.
It gave us a deeper appreciation for and connectedness with each other and for the world in which we live.
Even months of therapy can’t bring that to most families.
Thank you Mathew Kenny, for bringing the power of presence into our lives in a most delicious, beautiful, delectable, kinesthetic, aromatic and palpable way. It was Pure Raw Food Therapy.
And thanks for allowing us to post some of your wonderful recipes here for my friends, fans and family to experience.