Umami: Food and Philosophy For More Fun And a Balanced Life

Umami By The Sea

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Last August Naoko Wowsugi visited Asbury Park to present The Umami Taste Development Center. She took the participants through a process of meditation and taste bud stimulation that they won’t soon forget and it was something I look back on fondly. Naoko offered that “By stimulating our taste buds, epiphanic realizations can then channel other senses, opening new avenues of appreciation for the universe. I am seeking to awake umami sensations toward a deeper understanding of our responsibilities for ocean conservation.”There was an air of joy and excitement as well as balance and contemplation that washed over the beach that afternoon and it was certainly unlike anything else I’d experienced to that point. I was cooking for the event and was also a participant. Sitting on the beach and participating in this amazing event was not only transformative for me, but it also allowed Naoko to get excited about something I adore as well. Naoko Wowsugi got excited about the 2 River Mushrooms that we brought for the umami tasting portion of the event. This eventually became the Fungus Amongus Project, Naoko journey with mushrooms.

Since then, Two River Mushroom Company continues to grow and I continue to reflect on the intersection between the human experience, taste, and community. Just as the Umami Taste Development Center allowed Naoko to embrace the mushroom in a new way, her event allowed me to contemplate umami and balance in a deeper way as well.

“By stimulating our taste buds, epiphanic realizations can then channel other senses, opening new avenues of appreciation for the universe. I am seeking to awake umami sensations toward a fuller understanding of our responsibilities for ocean conservation.”

Keeping Our Balance

Balance and umami show up in my life each day in so many different ways. Balancing being a wife, mother, chef, entrepreneur, community leader and activist, friend, boss, neighbor, and creative soul seems to be my daily balancing act. But it has become far more than an “act” for me because I am consciously pursuing the balance of my life, every day. As a chef, I know that umami is a sincere matter of balance as well. Too much salt, too sweet, no texture, too chewy, to soft, too anything can change the experience of the dish.

Just as it is in cooking, imbalance in life can be a challenge. The truth is that we may not always know intellectually that our life is “out of balance” but we can no doubt feel it first, When our life has gone out of balance we can physically or emotionally sense a missing quality (just as we can taste a lack of savory flavor in a soup broth). If you’re missing some quality in your life you’re not fully integrated, And you will feel it.

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The Rebalancing Of Life’s Flavor (This Is The Fun Part)

So what does it mean to find balance again? Well, I’m no philosopher (at least not yet). But for me it means taking stock of what is going on. Where am I with things like family, friends, community, spirituality or faith, my career, my finances, my creativity? How does my body feel? How does my mind feel? What can I sense is different? Where do I desire to change? Why?

While this takes the temperature of what is going on, I then need to take action to address the balance. Just as with my cooking I may need to add or withdraw an ingredient, so too with my life. Where can I say “hell yes!” and where can I offer a respectful but firm “no”? Where can I add in something to spark my creativity and where can I put aside time for family? Do I need to make changes that I’ve been putting off? Do I need to keep going with a tough and challenging endeavor? How do I want to feel? How can I have more fun? Where can I go to get creative? Where will I go on my next adventure?

You see, not all of these questions are terribly serious (I’m always up for suggestions for my next adventure… Let’s go!)

But they are important. The umami, the balance of our lives is what gives them depth, flavor, and meaning. It is my hope that you will take on this new challenge, take stock of what is needed to deepen your own flavor and bring it into balance, and that you’ll join me as I do the same. We can make this idea a reality by living lives in pursuit of our own personal balance and umami.

We’re Always Finding Our Balance

If you’d like to learn more about Naoko Wowsugi you can check her out here
If you’d like to learn how to bring more balance to your body, be sure to explore my Moringa supplement company, Wave of Balance here
Curious about our local Mushroom Gourmet Mushroom Company, Check them out here

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