Not so long ago I had the pleasure of cooking a lunch at John and Catherine Pawson’s country place, Home Farm, in the Cotswolds in England. It was wonderful to fly from Copenhagen to London and then be whisked into the English countryside, surrounded by beautiful nature and peace, and to experience John’s architecture. What’s so amazing is that he cuts away all noise; all electrical appliances are hidden behind several layers of wood and even the sockets have been hidden away. The only thing to experience is raw material: limestone and wood, heavy steel frames on the massive windows facing the stone yard and the beautiful rolling countryside. While I was cooking in this beautiful setting I realised that I was learning something about myself, that this peace/zen enabled me to enter into a more sensitive self. I could taste the smallest little nuance of the asparagus, and at the same time my mind was calm enough to digest the flavour. Nothing could disturb me in that peaceful environment. The lunch was nice, people enjoyed it, and I felt I did very well. I felt complete.
After I returned from this journey I walked around on a cloud. I felt like a child who has a piece of candy in their mouth—in a state of enjoyment and also slightly ecstatic. I felt I had learnt something, but I was not quite sure how to translate it.
Later that evening I had to cook dinner, and I think by routine I had soaked a bag of white coco beans (Coco de Paimpol, to be precise), which I put on to boil. Without thinking, I added onions, carrots, and herbs, a little garlic, and then I started boiling them slowly. When it was dinner time they hadn’t finished, so we skipped the beans and ate greens. I left the beans cooking slowly, added a little water, and continued doing what had to be done.
Later on that evening, when Caroline and Sonya were sleeping, I sat down to write some ideas and I remembered the beans. I went over to the pot and tasted them. It was an explosion—beans, the water, the vegetables, really delicious, so I took a scoop and drizzled it with olive oil and ate them in solitude. Sitting in the quiet night with my beans I was transported back to Home Farm and the zen-like calm, and I realised that silence and calm is as important an ingredient in food as love and compassion.