Joshna Maharaj

photo credit Melissa Yu

What role does faith, broadly understood, play in your ecological-culinary trajectory?

Joshna Maharaj: There’s so much to say about that. It’s something that I really love talking about. One of the things that I think is so profound about eating – just the simple task of eating – is that it is a connection to the Earth and the wondrous system that has been provided for us. Beautiful things grow out of the ground, with all of the nutrients for us to eat. Our lives are so wild and busy and highly scheduled, but in the midst of all of that, this very fundamental, elemental human transaction is happening. Food was put here for us, for our survival. It is for the expressed purpose of keeping us alive, and giving us energy to keep working and moving.

 

So is there an inherent spiritual connection to food?

JM: 100 percent. There is a wisdom and an intelligence that underpins this system that is bigger than all of us. 

 

Can you elaborate on the role of love in the culinary experience?

JM: It’s such a beautiful opportunity. I don’t know any other context where that distinction is so palpable. When people are focused and thoughtful and considerate about the importance of the role they play as cooks the impact and effect on the people who are going to eat this food. Particularly, as a cook, I feel like sometimes we get a little too isolated from the idea that our job is not done until someone eats our food. All of what we do is so that people eat, and not just for the sake of making a thing. Even in a very expensive restaurant, it is still a very essential thing that is happening.

Stephen Bede Scharper, a columnist for the Toronto Star, is an associate professor with the Centre for Environment at the University of Toronto. He is author of Redeeming the Time: A Political Theology of the Environment and co-editor of The Natural City: Re-Envisioning the Built Environment.

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