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aphilotus's avatar

Do you think cooking is a spirtual act?

Asked by aphilotus (2926points) October 11th, 2009

I am not religious (I actually am actively against organized religion), but when I cook I tend to feel something that I guess feels like prayer, or being in church, would feel.

I’m just manipulating objects (utensils, pans, foods), but I feel more mindful and aware when I do it, and at the end the food tends to fill me with an energy that restaurant food does not.

Do you have your own ideas about cooking being spiritually fulfilling? Is your kitchen your own little temple?

And do any jellies out there actively combine religion with spirit-cooking? Do you have a big St. Michael on your fridge, or pray to The Flying Spaghetti Monster before you make pasta?

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37 Answers

DarkScribe's avatar

Actively against organized religion? Why? (and how – active in what way?)

I enjoy cooking when I can be a little creative, and I don’t mind it in a mundane day to day sense – but I can’t see anything spiritual about it.

sakura's avatar

I wouldn’t say it has any religious or spiritually meaningful implication behind it, but I find some cooking relaxing, especially if I have lots of time to prepare the food!

scamp's avatar

I just watched a movie called Ramen Girl the other night and it is about an american girl in Japan who is learning the art of making Ramen soup, but she just can’t seem to get it right because her “spirit” isn’t in it. You might want to check it out. As a Mother, I put love into my cooking, but I wouldn’t call it a religoius experience.

MagsRags's avatar

I don’t think there’s a straight line between religious and spiritual. And I think in certain circumstances, cooking can feel spiritual for me, mainly when I feel good about the ingredients I’m using, I have the time to be mindful, and I’m making something that I know will be enjoyed by someone I care about.

My daughter had her 19th birthday a few days ago. Previously, she has wanted to go to a fancy restaurant for her birthday dinner, but this year, she asked me to make stuffed peppers, which is a favorite meal for all of us, even though I use Campbell’s canned tomato soup for the gravy I have to, you see, because the recipe came from my mom. I’ve tried making a less commercial version, but it doesn’t taste right to us. Religious? No. But connected and nostalgic and honored. It was sweet.

jlm11f's avatar

Do you think cooking is a spirtual (sic) act? – No. It’s a “I’m hungry and need to eat before I faint” act. Because the only time I cook is when I am that badly starving. I don’t see anything spiritual about the experience.

Fyrius's avatar

I don’t experience cooking as anything more than a mundane routine either – it’s food, it needs to be cooked before I can shove it into my face, let’s get this over with.

I’m probably a very bad cook.

ccrow's avatar

I think it can be… I wouldn’t consider it so on a very deep level, but I think the act of preparing a nourishing & delicious meal, then sharing it w/my family, is very satisfying in that sort of way.

laureth's avatar

I do think of cooking as my spirituality. When I think about what is sacred, I think the Sacred is that which sustains life. (What else could it be?) When I take the ingredients, I think of what went into the making of them – the fertile soil, the water from the sky, the life in it all, and as I put them together, it’s like a kind of alchemy. With my hands, my creativity, and the hearth-fire of the oven, I put meals together that sustain the lives of myself and the ones I love. It’s totally spiritual. It’s the cycle.

Then again, I believe I have different spiritual ideals from the majority. Those who favor self-denial from the things that sustain Life (like finding the acts of eating, drinking, and even sex, done in moderation, are pleasurable and therefore inherently evil) seem to celebrate a culture of Death (and find their reward after said death occurs instead of here on Earth). Me? Everything from gardening, cooking, spinning my yarn, making love with my husband, and even taking a crap are Spiritual. These are the cycles of life and the creative process (of which digestion and destruction must be part).

Perhaps those who don’t view cooking and food as something Sacred don’t eat food with life in it? Or so far removed from what was once alive (Twinkies, anyone?) as to be effectively void of the spiritual force.

mattbrowne's avatar

Not to me. I admire people who know how to cook and bake well!

wundayatta's avatar

Of course it’s a spiritual act. That is, if you love cooking. I suppose for a lot of people food is just fuel, and for them, it wouldn’t be spiritual. However for those who believe cooking is an absorbing creative act, it is very spiritual. Cooks can get into a state of focus, in which they become one with the process and with the ingredients. The cook can tell exactly what will happen when they put things together—the taste; how long and at what heat things should be cooked. It’s as if you cook things in your head.

It comes from long experience with the things you cook. You get a sense for the chemistry of the process. You can tell how flavors will combine, and taste it even before it has been put together. You can only do this if you can connect with your ingredients on some kind of spiritual level, I think.

oratio's avatar

Spiritual, yes, religious no. It’s more like what I feel like when I paint or create something.

laureth's avatar

When we cook, something that was alive has given its life so that we might live. That cow or squash or wheat has made the ultimate sacrifice. Sometimes I’m surprised by how the followers of Christ, for example, see that sort of sacrifice as base or mundane.

Fyrius's avatar

It’s not exactly a sacrifice when it’s not voluntary.
And that actually makes it quite sensible to consider it base. Ask the vegetarian community.

oratio's avatar

@Fyrius I am not sure what else you would call it. What would you otherwise call the past blood sacrifice to Yahweh? American Indians thanked the animal spirit for sacrificing their bodies for them.

Fyrius's avatar

I believe the words “slaughter” and “harvest” were coined for this sort of thing.

oratio's avatar

@Fyrius Doesn’t that rely on perspective? As you take on a secular approach, sure.

Fyrius's avatar

No, I’m pretty sure that by any standard it’s slaughtering and harvesting by the definition of those two words. Killing them so you can eat them. Unless you want to deny that we kill these life forms or that we eat them, I think that’s pretty indisputable right there.

But if you have some alternate religious point of view to offer, according to which animals and plants deliberately choose to be eaten, I’m very much interested to hear it.

As a side note, I could think of a very religious view on cooking that nonetheless still sees the stuff to be cooked as the dead bodies of other beings who were slaughtered against their will. There have been religious rituals in ancient times that did in fact boil down to roasting cow meat and then eating it, while the aroma of the meat ascended to the heavens as a sacrifice to the gods.
(So they stuffed their own faces and offered the gods only the smell of them eating, and called it a sacrifice. I couldn’t have made this up.)

oratio's avatar

@Fyrius Yeah, it’s called the bible.

Fyrius's avatar


…really? The bible says animals are happy about being killed and eaten? Just like that?
Where does it say so?
And does anyone else ever wonder why animals struggle and pretend to hate it, if they’re actually perfectly cool with being eaten? Are they just playing hard to get?

oratio's avatar

@Fyrius What we were talking about, was that you said that sacrifice has to be voluntarily. Now you are just going rampage.

laureth's avatar

If we’re not talking animals, there is some evidence that some plants volunteer to be eaten. Some fruit seems to have evolved to be bright colored and smell delicious (like strawberries) so that birds or other creatures will eat it, and distribute the seeds as they poop across the land. It’s a plant’s reproductive strategy.

But we’re so far from the original subject now that it’s kinda funny. :)

Grisaille's avatar

I don’t, as I’d first have to submit that there is such thing as a spirit/soul/animus in the first place.

I do believe it strikes a chord emotionally and mentally, though – there is a certain pride that comes with crafting an object from a myriad of objects. If that is how you define spirituality, then I suppose I could toss semantics aside and agree.

Good on you for feeling so strongly about something.

laureth's avatar

For what it’s worth, I don’t believe in any kind of spirit, soul, or animus.

evegrimm's avatar

I believe that cooking/baking is sort of like magic—does that count?

And I love cooking something and having it taste delicious, or more often, have someone else tell me that it’s tasty.

I don’t really feel “spiritual” when I cook, but I’m definitely more mindful when I cook than when I do other things. I’ve found that cooking/baking while stressed is an effective means of reducing my stress level. And there’s something tasty when I’m done!

charliecompany34's avatar

love the question!

i do love my kitchen and all that i cook in it. it is my sanctuary and i hate when it is defiled by grease or dirty dishes and just plain not paid attention to by other family members. i love to cook. LOVE IT! and every time i am in the kitchen, is is therapy for me. in it, i create and build with love for the family who will devour the food and then place an empty glass on the counter without care to wash it after i’ve cleaned the kitchen to the letter.

the kitchen is my church.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Every artistic endeavor of creation is a spiritual adventure. Cooking is no different.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

I’m an agnostic but I feel similarly when I cook for pleasure or for someone else. It does feel as though an infusion of my care and energy is passed on in the presentation of the finished dishes and I in turn take a lot of pleasure from watching the food eaten or when eating it myself I feel indulgent. When I cook for a particular “friend” now, watching his eyes light up when he looks over the plates of whatever I’ve prepared kind of turns me on especially when he seems to be so appreciative and like everything. It makes me feel closer to being healthy than unwrapping take out and putting it on plates.

Darwin's avatar

Any creative activity can be a spiritual act in and of itself. You are using a different part of your mind than you would use to do a routine chore, one that speaks to your soul. Thus, if you cook creatively or cook to give pleasure to yourself or others, cooking can be a spiritual act. So can sewing, painting, carving wood, gardening, or any other of 1000’s of activities performed by humans.

As @RealEyesRealizeRealLies puts it, “Every artistic endeavor of creation is a spiritual adventure. Cooking is no different.”

Fyrius's avatar

Oh, right. Got a bit of a misunderstanding going on there.
No, what I contend is that somebody who sacrifices something, be it themselves or someone else, does so on purpose. @laureth up there put it as if the plants and animals in question sacrificed themselves, and that’s what I found doubtful.
If you want to think of cooking as you sacrificing the plants and animals you eat to yourself, then… that’s still a bit weird in my opinion, but okay. You could use the word that way, yes.

laureth's avatar

They were killed so you could eat. Their lives gone, your life fed. That’s what I was implying.

RedPowerLady's avatar

I absolutely do believe cooking is a spiritual act. There are a lot of rules in my culture that discuss how to prepare food. Maybe not a lot of rules but moreso a few very poignant rules. Also beyond those rules it is generally accepted that breaking bread together is a way to form family and/or close relationships.

When I cook is it spiritual or do I actively make it so? Not always. But sometimes the answer is yes. Especially when cooking for a cultural event.

phillis's avatar

I think cooking with spirits is a lively experience! Cooking holds little more appeal to me than any other chore. At least I’m not cleaning up (until the end). In fact, it sometimes feels like drudgery. As a stay-at-home wife and mother, there is little else I do besides take care of others and make sure the bills are paid. Cooking turns into an I-have-to-do-this kind of thing.

raoool's avatar

Every act is a spiritual act. Your ‘kharma’ (for lack of a better word) tags along with all of your actions – for better or worse. If you enjoy and perform the act with good intention, the ultimate results will be positive.

If said well-intended meal happens to make someone sick, the ‘gods’ (again – for lack of a better word) are trying to tell you that you made the wrong decision at that particular moment in time and the restaurant you chose not to visit will have offered you something to better your life.

But it’s also likely that one or more of those who did get sick, was spared far worse fate thru the purging of something that came out of them (along with the apparently wretched concoction).

Fyrius's avatar

I disagree. If people get sick from your food, it doesn’t mean a higher power is trying to tell you to change your life, it means you need to cook the meat longer.
Food poisoning is hardly a mystery that takes mystic forces to explain. We have germ theory and everything.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Anything done with love is a “spiritual act.”

Crossroadsgrl's avatar

yes, for a lot of people, absolutely

for others it is a true chore and burden but we are all made different that way

Crossroadsgrl's avatar

lol to what Fyrius said re cooking the meat longer

common sense ;)

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