The Joy Project: Maria Parsons

Maria Parsons, 58, is a retired chef. She lives on the Otago Peninsula, Dunedin, with her dog, Carlos, and cat, Socks.

Joy is a wonderful word. I prefer it to “happy”. Joy is really deep, whereas I think happiness is more fleeting. I think babies are born joyful, but the circumstances of upbringing and society and family change that in us.

Joy encompasses a whole lot of things. You can’t be full of joy if you’re anxious. Joy is about harmony and peace of mind.

I’ve had a lot of anguish and pain in my life but now I’m in a really good place. Maybe adversity is part of joy; if you go through something hard, joy is the reward.

My real joy is my spiritual life. I’m a Catholic and that has been pivotal for me. Without that connection, I wouldn’t have any joy in anything else.

I’m a convert – I was brought up a Presbyterian – but I became a Catholic when I was 34. It didn’t come easily to me, it came after I suffered a real tragedy in my life. I had an abortion, which is a pretty tender subject.

Becoming a Catholic was a very slow progression, but it’s been a beautiful journey. That is my centre and all the other joys in my life have come from that.

Finding joy in food started when I was a child. I grew up on a dairy farm at Henley on the Taieri Plains and food was a predominant thing in farm life – growing things, raising animals to eat.

There was a lot of hospitality and we were quite self-sufficient. We had our own hens, our own pigs, and my dad made cheese for a while.  Growing food and sharing it has been part of my life ever since.

My dad died when I was 10. We moved off the farm and into the local hotel, where my mum had the restaurant and grew it into a successful business.

Later on I went to study clothing design in Christchurch, but I kept walking past the chefs’ block and thinking, “maybe I should be in there instead”. Continue reading

Source and Image:

Additional reading

News category: Features.

Tags: , , ,