According to cookbook author Chantal Lascaris, there is a vast difference between eating to be happy and eating for happiness. Picture: Pexels/Tim Samuel
According to cookbook author Chantal Lascaris, there is a vast difference between eating to be happy and eating for happiness. Picture: Pexels/Tim Samuel

Eat what you want for happiness and don’t let it haunt you, says cookbook writer Chantal Lascaris

By Lutho Pasiya Time of article published Aug 14, 2021

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It’s totally cool to eat whatever you want. Well, we aren’t making this revelation but it’s something experts believe in. Turns out, if you are eating your favourite foods, you might as well do it with an open heart because a bite ain’t going to haunt you. Basically, the problem lies with our understanding of the concept of eating.

According to cookbook author Chantal Lascaris, there is a vast difference between eating to be happy and eating for happiness. That truthfully, it has nothing to do with binging or dieting or swapping out meat for veggies or, even, adding kale (and more kale) to every single meal we make.

“With our world in chaos, we seem to be constantly reaching for the things in our pantry that satiate. We’re grabbing for some form of peace, light, giddiness – anything sweet, savoury, canned, or just quick to microwave. Anything that’ll ease the strife of our new world and return our original state to ’happiness’. Some of us are eating way more than we did pre-Covid-19. Some of us are eating way less in the hope that we will shed the kilos before the next Level 1.”

“Happiness with food has less to do with what food we’re eating and more to do with how we’re experiencing the food we’re eating. It’s in how we prepare our meals, plate our meals, where we sit and eat our meals, and … how and with whom we choose to experience our meals. That’s happiness.

“Take the Spanish for example and their love of tapas as a bonded eating experience. Every small plate is a sharing, a celebration, an inspired moment. Then, there’s most of Europe that will take a siesta from their work desks, for a couple of hours – because taking their lunch is not just a need – it’s a cultural non-negotiable (with a glass of vino no less!). Let’s not forget our neighbours of Morocco who build their happiness on minted moments and choose to team as an everyday ceremony of love and honour,” says Lascaris.

She adds that after five years in the culinary spotlight, with five cookbooks and 200 experimental recipes (plus new respect for banana bread) she still believes no matter the time of year or what we may be going through, we all have the choice to eat for happiness.

Below is what Lascaris has come to know about happiness:

You can’t eat to be happy.

But you can eat for happiness. These are different pursuits. I, for one, don’t believe in healthy diets, I believe in healthy experiences; food is a celebration, not a punishment.

Happiness doesn’t need to take hours.

Start with the simple things. Like rusks at the back door. Happiness is simplicity. Simple steps, simple ingredients, simple outcomes – and maybe Table Mountain in the distance too.

Happiness is found in butter chicken.

Oh yes, it is. In my one-dish wonders, my happiest recipe to cook and enjoy is my ’better butter chicken’. I love making it, and I love experiencing it as a family meal, a date night meal, and even a bestie catch-up meal. It’s a one-dish joyride for winter or autumn or a week night supper; there are meals with hypnotic aromas that call us together around a table as a family, to experience food the right way – this is one of them.

There is no substitute for happiness.

But there is lemon and garlic. You can fix pretty much any lack-lustre meal with these two gems. Trust me.

You can’t overeat happiness.

Happiness is low on calories and high on joy. Portion control is unrequired. When we begin to appreciate that finding happiness along our food journey lies in the experience of food, we begin to prepare and choose our meals with a new outcome in mind. When we change the experience of cooking and dining, eating becomes a joy. We begin to cook up our meals for flavour and fun, not for survival or weight loss, or grudge. And when ’happiness’ starts happening, you can have as much of it as you please.

Eating for happiness is about reimagining our experience of food: from how it’s prepared by the cook (cue Keith Floyd back in the day – our first global chef to cook with wine!) right through to picturing who we’ll be serving our meal to, and who we’ll be sharing our meal with.

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