Kindness: The Essential Ingredient
Every once in a while you run across someone who restores your faith in humanity.
Chef James Haller is one of those people.
A few years back, I read his book, “Vie de France,” which chronicles a month he and a group of friends spent in the Loire Valley. Haller did the cooking, of course, and it struck me that he prepared food by instinct. No surprise, he’d been cooking professionally for a couple of decades, and is founder of the Blue Strawbery in Portsmouth, N.H.
He sounded like a good person. A nice person. Someone I’d want for a friend. He's won kudos for his inventive appraoch to cooking, too, and I borrowed from his approach and his book as I prepared food during a vacation in the Lot Valley two years ago.
Haller has also written a book called, “What to Eat When You Don’t Feel Like Eating,” which targets a neglected eating constituency: People with life threatening or even terminal illnesses.
So when a friend and co-worker was diagnosed with cancer, I thought of James Haller. I e-mailed him and we arranged a telephone interview.
Turns out he’d written another book, this one aimed at men with prostate cancer. It’s called “Simply Wonderful Food.”
It also turns out that he’s every bit as nice as he sounds in print. He's been volunteering his services to the hospice movement, cooking for sick people for years.
For seriously ill people, Haller recommends comforting foods that are packed with Vitamins A and C. Leafy greens and just about anything orange.
He pays attention to color, texture, taste and nutritional value. He often adds mint to counteract the metallic taste chemotherapy patients experience.
Haller suggests prostate cancer patients eat foods that are easy to digest. Treatment wreaks havoc with the digestive system, he notes.
We can prepare all the time-consuming fancy food we want, French or otherwise, but, as they say, it might not amount to a hill of beans if we forget the most important ingredient: Kindness.
It seems to me that James Haller figured that out long ago. Read more about him here.