Tak for Mad. This is a simple phrase that I have learned since I moved to Denmark. It simply means, “thanks for food.” It is most often used at the end of a meal, to thank the person who prepared the food. The very nature of the phrase is communal and reflects our interdependence, upon one another, but also upon the environment that helps to produce our food. This very simple habit embodies the ritual of of an entire Thanksgiving feast, everyday.
This week, get yourself in the habit of saying Tak for Mad (or Thanks for Food!) at the end of any meal and pause to consider, what is it that you are thankful for? For the taste of the food? For the energy? For the company shared during the meal? For the person who prepared it? For the knowledge passed down to you so you could create it? To the burst of creativity you had when you crafted a new recipe? And what about the things you cannot see or experience directly when you dine? What else, well beyond your plate, are you thankful for that brings the energy that sustains you to your mouth three times a day? What plants, animals, people, sunlight, water, soil was involved in satiating your hunger?
What does it mean to be fully human? A BIG question, but one I think, even if we don´t articulate it, it is THE question we all ask about our lives. The specifics of the answer can differ for all of us, but there will be some universalities to our response: something to do with identity, meaning, fear, happiness, love, the values that govern our lives and CONNECTION. Given my background in the creative industries and social justice NGO´s, this is actually a question that I have had bosses ask me from time to time. YIKES! And when it has happened a one-word answer comes to mind. THANKSGIVING. I grew up with the tradition in America, and although I haven´t lived in the States for 20 years, everywhere I go, I take Thanksgiving with me and find myself celebrating with people from all over the world for whom the patriotic mythology is meaningless, but who find Thanksgiving incredibly meaningful. WHY?
Thanksgiving provides us with a ritual that celebrates connection. A connection to ourselves (we reflect on and at dinner are asked to express what we have been grateful for in the past year – and good or bad, it is about what has enabled us to thrive and carry on), a connection to others (those who have helped us on our journey, inspired us, supported us, challenged us, loved us) and a connection to place (the land, the earth to which we are deeply dependent and has provided our feast).
Thanksgiving is a remarkable ritual that, through the process of preparing, making and sharing food, we develop a greater awareness of our dependence upon and connection to people, places, knowledge, nature – both seen and unseen, past and present. This all makes Thanksgiving the ultimate high holiday for The Mindful Kitchen. But, whilst EVERY day can´t be Thanksgiving Day, by developing the habit of saying a simple Tak for Mad at the end of each meal, you carry the spirit of being a part of nature with you throughout the year. I promise you, you will feel more connected to nature through food after a year of giving gratitude.