The Compliment Bagel Sandwich

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this photo was poached from the real food real stories Instagram account

This past Saturday, I had a chance to perform a Digestif Event with the amazing crew at Real Food Real Stories.   This was a great chance for me to  with the great people, energy and sense of connection that RFRS brings to the table.

I’m a fairly introverted guy.  I work for myself and spend a lot of time doing fairly inward projects – writing, painting, cooking…  but something about teaching brings the ham out in me.  It’s a good thing because, I spent more than a decade cooking and teaching for Sea Education Association and spent a lot of time being a ham-a-lama-ding-dong.  There were a lot of shenanigans but I always wanted there to be a deeper message layered in between the goofiness.

One of the most unique people that I’ve ever met in my life, Flip Wilson, used always encourage us to make “compliment sandwiches”.  Press the constructive meat of your message between two soft and fluffy compliments.

Take for instance, cooking bagels for ourselves.  Sure, the selling point is IMPRESS YOUR FRIENDS!  or You’ll never taste something as good as this.  These are both true.  I can make it fun and unintimidating by loosely measuring things and tossing pieces of dough in the air and making everyone participate and get their hands dirty.

But, as I’m looking back, I can feel the meat of the lesson come bubbling up to surface.  There’s a beautiful grace that comes from producing what we consume.  Whether that be growing food, building furniture, throwing clay, knitting sweaters, cooking food, baking bagels…   the repetition of some fairly simple actions culminate in a complex form that is much greater than the sum of actions.

Taste, quality, nutrient value, creative design – all of these comes shining through when we are able to produce our own things.  It flies in the face of what the powers that be want us to believe.  They want us to believe that we have to purchase what we need to survive.  That we don’t have enough time or energy to make what we need.  That it is more valuable and efficient for us to keep working our jobs to make money to purchase the things that we need because we CANNOT produce them ourselves.

We actually can.  And there’s a lot of value in that.

When you go to sea for a long time, there’s an unlearning that can take place.  Having limited resources available and no stores to shop in, we tap into an innate sense of creative resourcefulness.  Don’t have a tool?  Let’s make it!  Clothes and sails ripping?  Let’s fix it!

This is especially true with food.  Most food we eat comes from very basic ingredients.  Out of pasta?  Let’s make it!   Out of granola, bagels, doughnuts, crackers, cookies, muffins, pita bread, yogurt, cheese – let’s make it!

I’m grateful to all my teachers, shipmates and my family for nurturing and  providing me the opportunity to discover the value of work of craft whether that be through boat building, furniture building, art, sailing, cooking, fishing, massage…  there’s is so much to learn about ourselves when we work with our hands and we can often find those learnings through the performance of very simple acts…. in repetition.  It’s what they call a practice. The most simple one… the act of taking a breath in… and letting a breath out… with awareness … is one that we call meditation.

So, for all my beautiful, smiling,  bagel-making young Jedis, go out and make bagels, play in the dirt, follow your curiosity…  There’s much to discover through the act and, if it’s bagels, you’ll get a hot piping circle of deliciousness to boot!




2 thoughts on “The Compliment Bagel Sandwich

    1. s*, I’ve been missing you guys and tried to call you recently but I don’t have a good phone number for you. Let’s talk some time soon!

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