Step beyond the made-up complexity and artificial urgency of everything

A woman cooking in her kitchen.
A woman cooking in her kitchen.
Photo: Rob via RawPixel

In Ancient Greece, the word for “cook” and “priest” was the same — “mageiros” — sharing an etymological root with “magic.” The word appears again in the revealing 1814 anonymous Old English book, The School for Good Living, defining “magirist” as a “cook and an artist in good living.”

Back in Croatia, 50 years ago, I grew up on asphalt with a family heaven-bent on cooking. We huddled over lamb rotating on a makeshift spitfire at the riverbank, over a clay pot of braising saksija in our oven, over two barrels on our balcony, a smaller wooden one with fermenting peppers stuffed with cheese, and a large plastic one with 19 heads of white cabbage and one head of red cabbage (we elevated creating pink sauerkraut brine to the domain of art). Then there was winemaking in our garage, and meat smoking and vegetable gardening just out of the city. And not one, or two, but three socialist refrigerator/freezer combos. All of this in our apartment project building. …

Make it easier

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You are at the threshold…

Present and lucid. One foot in the known, one in the unknown. There is no judgment. There is no force. There is no rush.

Here, you are aware of your freedom to be yourself. Even if you do not know who you are.

Rays of amber light were arriving in our kitchen. It was that in-between time, Harlem dusk, when the war of the city gives way to its peace.

My wife was stirring a boiling pot of coconut curry soup and we were having a sweet-spot conversation. Intense and gentle at the same time.

That past weekend we had hosted a young couple seeking marital advice, so she asked, “What did you notice about the evening?” …

Who is a leader and who is a follower is becoming less and less clear, and, frankly, less and less relevant.

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Illustration from Mixkit

My friend Nate battled cancer last year. After an abrupt diagnosis and surgery, he and his wife moved to New York City and stayed with my family during the chemo and radiation treatment.

Nate is a leader at Community Solutions, a national non-profit organization, untangling the knot of homelessness. They have been working patiently, deftly, and joyfully, making historical progress.

He set up his office desk at our dining table, and I delighted in cooking dinners while eavesdropping on his work conversations.

During these phone calls, for the most part, he was curiously silent. He asked heartfelt questions. He re-organized conversations around what’s important and unknown and bookended each one with playfulness and care. …

A Recipe for an American Sacrament

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When I came to the United States, cornbread was a revelation. Corn originated here and took over the world. There are national corn dishes all over the world, Italian polenta being an example of a notorious one. American cornbread, however, is the corniest corn dish of them all, is more American than Apple Pie, and deserves the bow of every immigrant.

I set out to taste cornbread during my travels across the United States since arriving here about 30 years ago. I took notes until I could identify no new patterns in the recipes. Then I tested 10 different ingredient and process configurations in search of creating one that would make a tourist from a continent other than the Americas stop and say “Oh, wow, this.” …

The past is never gone. The future is already in the making. That’s why we can deal with the pandemic and racism.

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Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

Memory is not just a then, recalled in a now, the past is never just the past, memory is the pulse passing through all created life, a waveform, a then continually becoming other thens, all the while creating a continual but almost untouchable now. But the guru’s urge to live only in the now misunderstands the multilayered inheritance of existence, where all epochs live and breathe in parallels… Memory is an invitation to the source of our life, to a fuller participation in the now, to a future about to happen, but ultimately to a frontier identity that holds them all at once. Memory makes the now fully inhabitable ( David Whyte, Consolations, p. …

A book review is a bit of a no-no on Medium but I could not resist.

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STORY 10x: Turn the Impossible Into the Inevitable, by Michael Margolis (Page Two Books, 2019)

I have dozens of books on storytelling in my office. Story and leadership, story and marketing, story and change, story and writing, story and relationships, story and cooking, just to name a few.

Over the years, however, I’ve noticed the authority Michael Margolis holds for innovators and leaders in diverse industries. He is known as an authentic, brilliant, and fun master of storytelling and cultural anthropology. A shaman for disruptors. And a chocolate addict.

Michael offers three steps of his foundational framework, listed in the table of contents. In an era where we are suspicious of three-step oversimplifications, that’s a strike against the book, or so I thought. …


Samir Selmanović Ph.D. PCC

Wayfinding Leadership Coach & Transformational Cooking Teacher

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