Mindfulness Monday: Chopped

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I’ve never been particularly good at chopping fruits and veggies. I remember the first time I had to chop in a public setting. I was 17 and it was at the punk soup-kitchen Food Not Bombs; I was put on carrot chopping duty and I had a mild panic attack. What if my pieces are too big? Too small? Not uniform?! Fortunately, none of the punks complained about the carrots, but my chopping anxiety has continued to this day and I will often break into a cold sweat if someone is watching me chop anything. I prefer to do my chopping alone, so my misshapen and differently-sized pieces can exist without judgement.

But getting better at chopping is something I am trying to tackle for a number of reasons. First, knives are sharp. Haphazard chopping can lead not only to non-uniform food, but also bloody fingers. Second, chopping can be a true exercise in mindfulness. Chopping is a multi-step process that requires attention at every turn. To chop, one must first learn how to hold a knife. One must feel on their fingers the soft edge of the blade, and in their palm, the sturdy of the handle. To chop, one starts to hear the musicality of the tip of the knife against the cutting board, the sound of the blade swishing through a potato (or whatever else). To chop, one must have patience. It is, then, an ideal mindfulness practice, don’t you think?

My mission for this week is to chop mindfully, starting with this pineapple I am bringing to a Memorial Day Cookout-slash-Bday Party later this afternoon. I’m not going to lie, chopping a pineapple intimidates the crap out of me. But I think it’ll be an excellent start to this week’s challenge. Go big or go home.

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Are you a mindful chopper? xo

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6 thoughts on “Mindfulness Monday: Chopped

  1. Lauren S says:

    I, too, have chopping anxiety! My overprotective mom never let me near knives so I got a late start. Then one of my wonderful roommates was a talented cook but would stand over my shoulder and judge my techniques. I still hear her voice sometimes when I’m chopping! I’m also terribly clumsy – just yesterday I managed to drop the knife nearly missing my bare foot! Now usually that becomes David’s sous chef job, which is a nice excuse to cook together. His grandfather was skilled at carving and would make detailed figurines out of wood and taught him, so he’s good with knives. I’m getting better though! I watched an online demonstration class sort of like Khan Academy but another one, and it was a huge help… let me dig up the link from my bookmarks and I’ll post it here.

  2. angela says:

    I’m taking the Rouxbe Plant-based Professional cooking course right now and one of our early lessons was proper knife handling and practicing different cuts on various veggies. I was a pretty haphazard chopper before and didn’t realize how much patience and skill goes into uniform cuts. At one point, I never wanted to dice another carrot as long as I lived :)

  3. FoodFeud says:

    Haha, I am NOT a mindful chopper and have the scars to prove it.
    I am also pretty anxious when cooking around other people. I only get along in a kitchen with certain people. I like dinner parties sometimes but try to get most of the work done or at least prepped before people get there. Same with uniform chunks too – but I feel like that’s important! Size makes things cook differently! I dunno, I guess people are glad to eat free food and aren’t worrying about my same insecurities, haha. But anyway, I feel you!

  4. onesonicbite says:

    I love chopping stuff. I take so long too- well I can be fast, and I am always getting faster. But I use to work at a restaurant and one kid thought he was SOOO good at cutting because he did it fast… but wrong (he chopped as if he was using an asian style vegetable cleaver) It would drive me crazy since the chops were so uneven. I took so much pride in my fast chopping cucumber skills. They slices were soooo even and I did it in under a minute. The high of my chopping days.

  5. Hannah Siegmund @ThisVeganWhimsyh says:

    I am definitely not a mindful chopper – and I have some scars to prove it. I have to be completely (COMPLETELY) focused on what I am chopping or I’m likely to nearly take a finger off. I can’t talk to other people or look at anything else, I just have to focus and chop slowly to prevent accidents. You’d think I would get better eventually, but it hasn’t happened yet :)

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