I had had a particularly trying day so I did what I do best, I went food shopping and began my moving meditation of cooking. You see to clear my head nothing works better for me than cooking a meal, the repetitive nature of washing, chopping, searing and stirring in perfect silence somehow provides insight internally. As I sifted through mussels and emptied squid bodies of their internal organs and odd plastic like spines, I thought about the fact that no person lives a life without emotional trauma whether past or present, myself included. The key to inner serenity is our relationship or attachment to this negativity in our lives. We are born and accumulate both seeds of negativity and seeds of joy within our consciousness, those individuals we see as calm and serene have simply disciplined themselves to water the seeds of joy in their lives and detach emotional energy from the seeds of negativity and suffering.
I chopped a quarter of a white onion and two cloves of garlic, a handful of Castelvetrano olives and three anchovies. The pan heated the olive oil and I slid the ingredients in, listening to the sizzle my brain continued to make these beautiful synapses between how joy is created, how serenity is achieved through active participation in cultivating attention to these seeds and not those of our suffering.
The onion became translucent and I added freshly grated lemon zest, the scent filled the air for a brief moment and I mentally jotted down another thing that created joy in my brain, the scent of lemon.
Though we take a daily dose of our individual dramas, it is not necessary to attach emotion to them, that is an option.
Better I think to attach emotion to the scent of lemon.
The par boiled Arborio rice is sifted into the pan and quickly followed by mussels, shrimp, and calamari, seconds later a generous pour of dry white wine, and a generous drink of the same for me. Timing is everything in cooking, in life. Things take time, and then it feels as if time has run out and things must be done swiftly, it's this beautiful give and take of allowing for each thing in life to take the time it needs and without judgement honor it.
Just as soon as the wine evaporates the fish stock I had been boiling on the back burner is ladled in one at a time, instead of all at once, paying particularly close attention to when the risotto calls for more. After the first ladle two quick ladles of sauce I had prepared earlier, simply whole tomatoes, white onion, basil and salt.
A dash of pepper, saffron fronds and a moment or two covered and left to steam through each grain of rice before the next stir and ladle. It's like that in life, a constant agitation of an event or trauma stirred in the consciousness is never the right answer, rather a balance of letting things rest and settle and open on their own, intermittently between stirring the pot is always a better balance I think to myself while leaving the risotto to do it 's thing alone.
Cooking a simple risotto, making an avocado toast, whatever it is if you listen closely has so much to teach about who we are and why we do the things we do. My thoughts about nurturing and watering seeds of joy have come from this risotto. I wonder if that will be imparted through it's eating to those I feed it to? Hmm....the power of thought.
1 lb of mussels
2 squid, cleaned and cut into rings and tentacles
1/2 lb of peeled deveined shrimp ( save the shells for stock )
1/4 cup chopped fennel
2 cloves garlic minced
1/4 of a white onion minced
7-10 chopped Castelvetrano olives
1 tbsp capers
zest of one lemon
1 tbsp tomato paste
4 handfuls Arborio Rice ( parboiled 5 minutes)
1 can whole tomatoes ( made into sauce with onion and basil and salt) or tomato puree
2 cups or more shellfish stock ( made from scratch)
1 knob of butter
a handful of fresh watercress
Parmigiano to garnish
Parboil rice for five minutes and drain. Make sure timing is correct, boil water and let boil until you are ready to put seafood into the pan, then pour rice into subtly salted water for 5 min.
Put shrimp shells and a slice of additional onion and onion skin, ma few stalks of fennel and the garlic skin into 4 cups of water and set to boil.
Meanwhile in a wide open pan place EVOO and onion, garlic, fennel, anchovies, capers and olives on medium heat until onion is translucent. Add the tomato paste and seafood, drained rice and turn up the heat, quickly add the wine and let it evaporate, maybe 2 min, follow with fish stock and scrape the bottom of the pan, ladle in two ladles of tomato sauce or puree and cover. five minutes later lift lid and add more stock and repeat the craping of the bottom of the pan. repeat until the rice accepts no more liquid, about 15 minutes from start ( adding of rice) to finish.
Arrange mussels around the pan, add the knob of butter, stir in and let sit for another 3 minutes. Add, watercress, Parmigiano, and lemon zest and pepper.