I posted this picture on Instagram the other day and it went to both my Twitter and Facebook feed. Almost immediately I got this comment from Vincent Mina of Maui Aloha Aina: “Yea baby I can feel the heat”
When Jon and I saw the comment, we instantly started laughing. The heat and spice of this dish was exactly what we spent our entire meal talking about. I’ve spoken about couple food compatibility before, and this meal was such a study in that. Both of us, of course, love Thai food, but while I found this to be a perfect blend of heat and flavors, for Jon it was totally bland. For full disclosure, it should be noted that Jon is able to eat levels of heat not common to most.
This common occurrence in our house illustrates an idea I keep coming across in my day to day life as well as the readings I have done on topics of Ayurveda and natural healing: Food is medicine, a connector, a sensual and individualized experience. The dosage and form it needs to take for optimal reception by each person will vary depending on our body and soul’s need at that time.
I’m not suggesting we cook separate meals for each person at a dinner table. What I am suggesting however, is that each meal we create for ourselves can be and perhaps should be an act of personalized alchemy. Where chili peppers feel too hot and almost violent on my tongue and in my stomach, for Jon, it’s flavorful, enlivening and brings the dish to completeness. We each respond differently to combinations of food and spices.
When cooking a meal for you and others, it becomes a dance of intuition and moderation. Certainly we take into account the over all dietary needs of who we are serving. Some are vegetarian, some have gluten intolerances and any number of other restrictions. These needs are easy to work with, but in the end, typically, when making a meal for 2 or more people, you end up cooking ONE meal, not different meals for each person at the table.
To this end, setting a table takes on a whole other level of purpose. Where it’s common to add salt and pepper shakers to the dinner table so others can season at will, I suggest adding other things as well. Oils can be added for dressing and moistening, chilis, vinegars, more of the herbs and spices used in the actual dishes being served; these are just some examples.
I would like to think that we are well beyond the ego trip of being offended when someone adds salt to a dish we have made. We all simply have different needs, and I think that providing a few more options aside from salt and pepper, prompts others to really think about what they need from the dish they are eating.
For us, as a couple, it’s generally easy for me to mitigate our differing needs. For the most part, the way I season our food suits Jon quite well, unless it’s Thai, of course! In those instances some chili pepper flakes or sliced red chilis on the side do the trick!