Sunday, July 25, 2010

Chopping Therapy

It's my meditation, my calm. There's a rhythm, a focus, a goal. No matter that it involves a sharp object, almost always the very same sharp object with which I nearly severed my left index finger.

Despite the hazards, I like everything about it. Chopping, that is.

There's something, for me, about being solitary in my kitchen and chopping chopping chopping. The heft of the knife handle, the satisfying Guillotine-like sound of a swift slice, the knock of the blade against my seen-better-days bamboo cutting board. I'm beginning to realize that I get out a lot of aggression when it's just me, my knife and a pile of items that need to be cleaved. And not in an enraged sort of way - more like a methodical, focused, in-the-moment sort of way. Zen, via carrots.

Chopping vegetables offers me the most pleasure, with their solid THUNK or their crisp snap as they meet their fate. Meat, however, is a different contentment altogether. I can see the allure of butchery - or surgery, for that matter. I get a deep-seated fulfillment when I can trim a steak just so, or dress down a chicken breast to its naked, shiny essence with a few strokes of a well-honed knife.

Lately, the chopping has been my escape. I spend several hours on a weekend day prepping mounds of veggies for the grill, enough to last me for the week ahead. I've come to crave that time to myself, and I prefer it to be silent, with only the thuds and whacks of my efforts serving as accompaniment. I don't think about anything but the task at hand - no thoughts of the stresses in my life, no worrying over the trifles, no job, no pets, no DH - just the chopping. Some people like to bake for the very same reason, but for me, there's too much mental involvement in baking (oy - the measuring and recipe-following!). So I'll just chop instead, thank you very much. If I had the time, I'd make Asian-style stir-fry dinners every night, just for the opportunity to chop.

I'm not sure why I'm even writing this - probably because I just finished up my chopping for the week, and I'm so HAPPY. The result of an hour or so of chopping followed by another hour or so at the BBQ means that my fridge is now full of gorgeous grilled veggies, grilled chicken, grilled salmon... my week ahead looks delicious. But alas... no more chopping until next Sunday and a whole new set of stresses rolls around. Sigh.

What about you? How do you find solace in the kitchen? Or do you?


  1. We must be kindred spirits! I find the chopping and knife-work so calming. I just get into my groove and get out of my own head for a few minutes. People are always trying to get me to use some chopping gadget-this-and-that. Just give me a good knife and a cutting board and I'm happy. I would much rather have my hands on a knife and what I'm chopping/prepping than on some gadget button any day of the week.

  2. Soul sistah! I could have written this...

  3. I couldn't agree more! For me, though, it's not chopping, per se, but just being in the kitchen that's therapeutic.