Standing on A Cloud of Comfort

When I was a child, I couldn’t help but notice that all the other little girls’ mom’s wore pretty shoes while mine wore sensible oxfords or orthopedic models. Actually this was because she was a dentist and in those days, before the advent of electronic multi position examination chairs, dentists had to stand on their feet all day. It was also because my courageous mother had been crippled by polio but she didn’t allow this to stop her from choosing a profession that was physically demanding. She was, in fact, the only woman in the entire dental school at the time.Though I didn’t have the problems with my feet and legs that she suffered, I never-the-less was strongly influenced by her approach to support and comfort. This has stood me in good stead as now so many of my friends are undergoing foot surgery for bunions and other problems. But catering to your feet has more ramifications than just your feet. Happy feet make for a happy back, happy body, and happy soul. And shoes are not the whole story.

For years, while teaching classes and testing recipes, I have stood on an industrial rubber mat. In fact, when I taught at Rich’s department store with Shirley Corriher, some years ago, I purchased portable anti-fatigue mats for each of us as the marble floors were the absolute worst surface to stand on. Another benefit of a mat, incidentally, is that when you drop a glass or ceramic bowl it doesn’t break! Last year, when we were in the midst of photographing the cakes for my upcoming book, I noticed that the food stylist and her assistants were standing on an anti-fatigue mat that was actually attractive—no gorgeous. I stepped onto it and discovered that it was also far more cushioned than my industrial one. It was love at first stand! Liz’s assistant Jan Fort explained that her friend produced these gel-filled mats and I immediately called and ordered one for my kitchen. A few weeks ago I discovered that the mats, called GelPro Mats, have become so popular they are now produced in larger sizes so I promptly ordered a second longer and wider one for my 7 foot work area in living room. The gel mats come in several colors and designs. My favorite is the brown one called “truffle” in the basketweave design that looks woven but this is a clever illusion as it is merely an imprint so dirt doesn’t catch in the lattice-like design, making it easy to clean.