With every item and ingredient ever-so accessible in long, overstretched grocery store aisles, sometimes I feel as if my culinary creativity is slipping from my grasp. With every option and possibility at my fingertips, I find myself falling into the same patterns, looking at the same shopping list, and never forced to think critically or creatively to innovate.
We all fall victim to shrinking to what we are comfortable with—the same meals, the same clear-cut path through Trader Joe’s including exactly 7 turns, and 11 stops. However, have you ever sighed in mourning of the creativity you may have lost over the years? Do you desire the encouragement to still be as creative as you were at a worn-out desk in an elementary school classroom? I do.
“Adulting” in some shape or form typically means cooking for ourselves, even if it is just a box of pasta or a half-salvageable burnt piece of toast. Although, I’ve decided that to repossess all the natural and childlike creativity we have to share with this world, it can be brought to us again in the kitchen. We don’t all have time to squeeze finger painting into our busy, “matured,” schedules, but we always manage to have time to eat.
I find that coordinating cuisine and creativity is the perfect complement—synchronously nurturing our minds and, of course, our stomachs. But, nonetheless, being creative is not an easy feat when the automatic door slides open and everything and anything can be found and rung up by a cashier.
I often see myself in this compromising position, where the freedom to choose what I want inversely inhibits my mind’s capacity to create. However, living in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, I have discovered the abundance of small family-owned farms and markets to be the perfect solution. Trailing through a supermarket does not do our creative instincts any justice, yet local farmer stands, with little on display and sometimes just a basket of mix-matched produce placed in your hands, functions as the best creative exercise.
This creativity routine seems to find me like an inkblot. If you’re familiar with the inkblot practice, it is where you are given a just splotch of ink on paper and urged to draw something from its organic and unique form. The produce at local farms display a similar test. They provide an exercise to work our creativity muscles as we encounter the unpredictable.
The local, in-season, and fresh produce change rapidly. Every trip to the farm stand feels like a brand-new canvas that invites me to use different colors and techniques. This is why spotting a farm stand lays witness to a beautiful sort of spontaneity. I typically have no idea that it is just down the street, and then one day, I stare at the sign a short second longer, pull into the drive, and here I meet my creative match in a basket of watercress greens.
I take what is given, yet limited, and create a meal. There’s no overthinking, just the transformation of produce to product. It is nearly an unconscious exercise to measure my creative potential. In this process, I feel more attachment to my food, as I can personally testify to its transition from farm to table. In this repeated experience, I have found that it is ever-so important to re-attach ourselves to the process. Yes, a meal can be bought and prepared with ease and efficiency today. Yet, there is a symbiotic relationship between investing in local farms and investing in ourselves. When we leave the grocery list and meal-prep ideas behind, we can allow ourselves to discover new greens, fruits, and more. We can present ourselves simultaneously with a challenge and magnificent experience to reignite our inventive side.
I urge everyone to forget the overpriced tabs and many mediocre meals gone bye. Rather, take on the distinctive creativity-inducing experience that is delivered through local farms and home cooking this summer season.