One the the first pithy Buddha quotes I heard was this one:
If you knew what I know about the power of giving, you would not let a single meal pass without sharing it in some way
As a food lover and chef, I was immediately drawn to this succinct teaching; it seemed wholesome and relevant. But actually, I never really took it on. Maybe it seemed too easy, so I was rather skeptical. Wasn’t dharma meant to be more hard work than that? And it seemed kind of inconsequential. I wanted to change my experience of the world, not share my sandwiches!
But today, probably more than a decade later, this quote came back to me with new meaning. I had been listening to this Ted Talk about the secrets for a long and happy life. Susan Pinker was talking about several large-scale research projects that all pointed to the same thing. Yes, diet, exercise, clean water and not drinking or smoking all contributed to happiness and longevity, but they were lower down the list of influence than most people would expect. The top two influencers, not just for longevity but also for happiness were: close relationships and social interactions.
After chewing on this for some days, the thought came to me: maybe I could have the intention to never eat alone, thereby increasing my friendly social interactions. That’s when the Buddha’s teaching came back to me, and suddenly lots of loose ends to do with kindness, generosity and gratitude came together, and BOOM!
I used to love sitting alone in coffee shops with a good book. I thought of it as one of my ‘indulgences’. But I hardly have the impulse to do that anymore. Now I am much more inclined to ring a friend and share that coffee and cake, and some nourishing conversation.
I am so happy that since arriving in Queenstown 10 months ago I’ve found a wonderful group of friends who are really into the idea of pot-lucks. Pot-luck dinners, where everyone brings a plate of something, are such a great example of the power of sharing a meal. There is the opportunity to practise generosity, but there is also a complete lack of judgement or competitive baking. Bring a packet of crisps or a dish of hand-rolled pasta; it doesn’t matter. Share conversation, share the bounty and share the washing up. I always find potluck’s to be a great meal and social occasion!
Here is a winning recipe for a gluten free chocolate cake. The recipe comes from Emma Galloway who writes the My Darling Lemon Thyme blog, and she shared it after she created it as a wedding cake. It is on the special and indulgent side, and has become my go-to celebration chocolate cake. I decorated my latest cake with Smarties for a birthday pot-luck, photo above. Emma’s was way more elegant!
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 3/4 cup hot water
- 2 1/4 cups brown sugar
- 330g butter
- 300g dark chocolate
- 2 1/4 cups almond meal (ground almonds)
- 9 eggs
Pre-heat oven to 170, grease and line cake tin. Put cocoa into a medium saucepan and slowly whisk in the hot water to form a smooth paste. Add sugar, butter and chocolate. Stir over low heat until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and set aside for 15 minutes to cool. Stir in the almond meal and eggs. Pour into tin and bake for about 35-45 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Cool cake in the tin, then remove, cover and refrigerate until needed. They can all be frozen at his stage if you are planning ahead.
Cheers! To your health!