Star struck

Does anybody remember reading "The Celestine Prophecy"? It came out over 10 years ago so even if you have early-onset oldtimers you should still have it in the recesses of your mind. The "Da Vinci Code" of its day, one of the key factors is "unexplained coincidences".

Whilst a work of fantasy, the book hit a note with many as it pushed the boundaries of conventional spirituality without defying them and explored notions often considered a bit "out there" despite some of the world's major religions acknowledging spirits, multiple dimensions and resonance, and the scientific discovery (mathematical proof) of worm holes.

Only recently I heard a piece on the radio about gut instinct and decision making, with top level executives cited as relying on gut instinct and that gut instinct decisions are frequently good and sound, based on information the subconscience gathers over a life time of experience and perhaps primordial wiring. I've tried to find the reference but a search on auntie only sends me to a similar discussion with Dr Norman Swan 10 years ago - clearly this isn't a new line of thinking.

On a personal level I find gut instinct a little confusing. The scientist in me is analytical and factual, wanting to weigh up the pros and cons. The legal eagle in me finds various angles and more often than not I am able to argue alternate sides to an argument, which tends to moderate my passion. Tangled in all of this is a further contradiction - my gut instinct. I frequently put this aside except where I have little to rely on in the facts, angles and arguments department.

Every now and again however, I get "awful feelings" in the same way that if my mother says she has "awful news" it's most probably of the mortal kind. These feelings are not premonitions, rather an ominous sense of foreboding sinks in. After my brother was in a car accident following one of these, I vowed I would not ignore my gut instinct.

10 days ago I talked myself out of a gut instinct - that I didn't know the person in question well enough, that I was over-reacting, and that I was imputing my emotions onto their circumstances. Sure enough, following the weekend, I discovered this person had fractured 2 vertebrae slipping over AND had been in hospital for 5 days as a result. I jumped in the car and headed to the hospital to pay a visit.

When I arrived my first thought was how wonderful the food from the hospital cafe smelled. My friend C had another friend with him, and she had brought him lunch. And then I realised this was not just any lunch, this was lunch from her restaurant, Bird Cow Fish.

I've previously mentioned Bird Cow Fish has long been my favourite Sydney Bistro. I admire Alex Herbert's approach to food and dining, not Haute Cuisine but excellent nonetheless (more on this another time). With her spunky husband (I can say that as I have my own) running front of house with some of the loveliest service staff in Sydney, I am a fan. Perhaps even more so because despite having two children (I've seen them at the restaurant) she still manages to get out to Flemington to chat with the growers and stallholders - I've seen her there, and wanted to say hello, but thought it was just a bit too weird even for me.

As I know all this (and more) about Alex, I felt conscious of appearing a sycophant. After all, I had come to visit an injured friend and just happened to be partaking in a conversation with someone I have admired from a distance for some time. With 2 chefs (C is a chef too) and little old me gathered around, much of the conversation focused on food and produce - from beef cheeks to churning butter, as well as sailing (C is also a sailor), dogs' names and anything else that amuses people in a hospital bed on loads of diazapam and a cheeky glass of kiwi pinot with lunch (C is also a kiwi). Despite the circumstances, it was kinda fun.

Later that day it occurred to me that perhaps there's an extra element to Bird Cow Fish and Alex's cooking that makes it so endearing for me. You see, despite C being a chef and the hospital being in a pretty hip dining area of Sydney where many of C's friends and contemporaries are based, Alex was the first to bring a meal in for him. She's obviously thoughtful, and emotion invariably adds an extra dimension to food for the sensitive soul.


t h e - g o b b l e r said...

Always trust your gut feelings Grocer, sometimes its the only little voice of reason worth listening to.
Even though I have never eaten at Bird Cow Fish in either of its incarnations, (its first was in Paddington wasnt it?) I remember Alex & her days at the Pheasant Farm & back then she was a gifted cook.
There are many types of chef I think, but I always gravitate toward those that nurture when they cook, I reckon she's in that camp

grocer said...

gobbler, it was in Rozelle (the Victoria Rd end of Balmain).

I think that's the camp to be in! ;]

Thermomixer said...

Hope your friend is recovering well. The gut instinct reminds me of a couple of the sessions on Catalyst this year (I think with Dr Swan) about the power of positive thinking and attracting luck. I am a scientist at heart and so have reservations, but something must happen to increase the endorphins or some other chemical to increase your sense of well-being.
I believe that many chefs have that compassionate side, rather than being like Mr Ramsey, and their nurturing spreads thru the establishment. George B at Sunnybrae is definitely of that ilk.

Anonymous said...

Dear Star Struck,
Obviously I have far too short an attention span - and so couldn't get all the way through what you'd written.
However from what I did read may I bring your attention to the following, possably contradictory, thoughts. (Remember, true genius is the ability to hold contraditory thoughts simultaneously AND believe them both absolutely - also the reason we will never invent artificial intelligence). Firstly; it is an emerging theory amoungst geneticists that Mitochondrial DNA (as opposed to Nuclear DNA) is the source of "inherited knowledge" or "Instinct". Mitochondrial DNA is 100% maternally inherited, which leads to the "7 daughters of Eve" theory - there are only 7 types of Mitochondrial DNA in all Homo Sapiens. Whilst I dislike your apparent reliance upon reductionist thinking - which disallows belief in "instinct" and many other realities until there is a proven basis for it - I do like investigating the science behind Bio - Dynamics and other "Occult Science". I find joy in discovering reductionist proof for what Christianity writes off as "witchcraft".
Trust your instinct - use the force Luke.

grocer said...

thermo, thanks for your thoughtful comments once again. I would only disagree slightly with Mr Ramsey as I do see nurturing within his personality albeit in a tough love kinda way. One episode on kitchen nightmares springs to mind.

Neil, you are an interesting character. Until you are able to hold those contradictory thoughts AND keep reading you will never be a genius. had you kept reading your would have realised that I do not disbelieve in instinct - au contrare... Perhaps you could read in segments to get the whole story?