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Dare to be a kitchen goddess

by Marlies Dekkers
I find cooking relaxing, grounding and even sexy. To quote writer Michael Pollan: ‘The very best cooking is a form of intimacy.’ And so I tell my friends to get back in the kitchen. Some follow my advice, others tell me I’m crazy. Like my dear friend Heleen van Royen.

Actually, Heleen’s exact reply was: ‘Get out of here, I HATE cooking.’ Which didn’t surprise me. She’s a hugely succesful writer, a cunning controversialist and a fiercely loyal friend. But Suzy Homemaker, she ain’t. When I used to visit her in Portugal, I would have to do all the shopping and cooking myself; her fridge was always empty. No problem, but I just I didn’t want her to miss out on the sheer joy and countless benefits of cooking. So I kept nagging her. “It’s a lot like sex, Heleen. Really.” She would just roll her eyes.

Then one day, I received a picture of a huge bowl of figs, four bags of sugar and several jam jars. Oh. My. God. Heleen had started making fig jam. ‘It works! You were right!’ she texted. And that was that. Granted, she will never be a cliché happy housewife, (the title of her first bestseller ‘The happy housewife’ had a highly sarcastic undertone) but her fridge is always stocked these days. More importantly, she cooks every now and then and it makes her feel more grounded. Though she did warn me: “Just don’t get too excited and expect me to take up knitting now!”

Still need some convincing? Here are my top 4 reasons for becoming a bonafide Kitchen Goddess:

-Cooking is empowering: You feel what your body and soul need at that moment, and you make it for yourself, using your own hands. And when you eat it, you know exactly what is in each bite. Just wait and see, that feeling of self-sufficiency will also affect the rest of your life!

-Cooking is sensual: We are so much ‘in our heads’ all day, and one of the best ways to connect with our bodies is to get down and dirty in the kitchen. Cutting meat, washing veggies, kneading dough, licking your fingers; all this gets you in touch with your tactile creativity.

-Cooking is healthy: From the moment you visualize the dish in your head, your salivary glands get to work, producing the correct enzymes. Then, during the cooking process, smelling and tasting will prepare your body even further for the food it is about to digest.

-Cooking is meditative: If you do it with a certain awareness –as Michael Pollan likes to say: “When chopping onions, just chop onions.”- it is the perfect way to empty your poor overworked brain.

Heleen van Royen (1965) Heleen van Royen is a bestselling Dutch author, famous for her provocative way of writing.
She sold 1.7 million copies of her novels worldwide. Heleen’s bestselling debut novel “The Happy Housewife” was
published in eleven countries and made into a successful film, starring Carice van Houten. In 2007, Heleen and Marlies wrote ‘Stout’, a book about flirting, success, power, lingerie and eroticism.

Michael Pollan (1955) is an American author and activist who writes with rigor, passion and perspective about food, agriculture and the environment. Two bestsellers to check out: ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma’, and ‘In Defense of Food’.

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