Being mindful

We believe food should be savored. That means slowing down to contemplate how food flavors change as they move across your palate. With a unique flavor that evokes the village squares of Mexico and the spice trading routes of the Middle East, Burning Bush encourages mindful eating.

Mindful Eating – A Personal Journey

by Neil Wernick, CEO & Chief Sauceror – Burning Bush Foods

For me, growing up, food was a distraction.  Meals continually interrupted play, TV, and sports. To minimize downtime, I learned to eat quickly. Very quickly.  I wish I had $1 for every time I heard someone characterize my eating habits as “he inhales his food.”   Were I not blessed with a healthy metabolism, I’m certain that I would have had a history of eating disorders. Today, I have no doubt that from a young age I was a mindless eater. It is a condition that I continue to struggle with even today.

Like all habits, there is typically a “payoff” and a “cost.” The payoff for my unconscious eating habit has been the illusion of saving time.  But the true cost has been years of sacrificing my experience of food and taste.

In my early 30’s something shifted for me, influenced by several people with deep food experience who have become family and my closest friends, including Michele Rifkin, my wife, and Nate Kruman, my best man and now my business partner. Up to that point, the only thing I “cooked” were eggs, frozen foods, and baked potatoes…hardly a foodie’s delights.

What I began to learn was that if I slowed down and became more deliberate and focused, I was able to distinguish textures or “mouth feel,” temperatures, and the spectrum of tastes of sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami.  I became able to notice many types of aromas and different food sensations at different locations on my tongue and in my mouth.

And I learned that sum total of these sensations are knows as a flavor profile that takes into account the three essential elements of flavor: 1) tastes; 2) aromatics (e.g. olfactory sensations like strawberry, beany, fruity); and 3) the chemical feeling sensations (e.g. heat/burn from chili, cooling from mint or menthol).

I continued to seek out new experiences to further expand my taste horizons and learned that while I could be called an “adventurous” eater, I still experienced those adventures at raceway speeds. Fast forward to 2006 and a life-changing event called the Israel Ride…Hazon’s 300-mile cycling trek from Jerusalem to the Red Sea across six climatic zones including a stretch through the Arava following the ancient Spice Route.

Next time:  The Road to Revelation