A good friend of mine commented recently that I talk “food” a lot, maybe 70% of the time. That I manage to weave something about food into the conversations, that my FB posts deal with food, that my blog could turn into a food blog with my recipe posts. It’s like my comfort area of conversations, a subject where I know my stuff and I feel as if I can contribute well.
I’m positive that the comment was not meant as a negative jibe, just a notice about how I roll.
I had to think about that one a bit. At first, I felt badly. Am I that one dimensional? Do I try to steer conversations to this topic, hoping that I will shine? Am I not being more free with my thoughts, especially on the blog? But then I realized that I shouldn’t feel badly, that the comment goes deeper to a part of who I am.
And I came to the conclusion of “I agree.” I do talk food. A lot.
I just get food.
- Though I may not look like it, I really like to eat, quite a lot actually. (The liking to eat is liked a lot, not the amount of food. Most of the time anyway(s). Depends on whether or not homemade rice krispie bars are nearby. They are the kryptonite to my power of self-control!)
- Food is the great common denominator. I may not be be able to create a database, build a robot, understand the stock market, be a whiz at chess, make as much as someone else or have the same life experiences, but we all have to eat. Food, on some level, is an equalizer. It brings us on the same footing to the table, even if it’s simply the ground of needing substance to make it through the day. I like that even footing.
- I love trying new fusions of ingredients to see whether or not I can make the elements blend together to make a surprisingly delightful and tantalizing combination.
- Creating a new-to-me recipe from an old cookbook or from one of the well-respected masters fills me with with anticipation and joy. Will it turn out as it should or will I struggle with the process?
- Tried and true meals, ones that I know are thoroughly enjoyed, those meals are as fun to make as new ones. I draw contentment from thinking about the appreciation my family will have from those meals.
- I like discovering the science or the ideas behind recipes and foods, such as:
- Why would a roux (butter and flour) work as a great thickener for one recipe but cornstarch is a better choice for another?
- Why can I add a teaspoon of baking soda to a tomato sauce (and not alter the taste) to reduce the heartburn that can be brought on by such an acid-based sauce?
- Why is burning alcohol in a dish so incredibly cool, with its flames of blue, yellow and a hint of green and how can it leave the desired flavor without burning the ingredients?
- Why does a bread recipe work well on one day and not so well on another?
- Why is chocolate always a winner, a great choice?
- Will I ever get the nerve up to try a soufflé, knowing that cooks much greater than me have failed time and time again?
- Brussel sprouts – who on earth thought to eat them? Mushrooms too. No, really. Why?!
- I get so animated when talking food to others! I love hearing others share their food stories, favorite restaurants or recipes/favorite foods they enjoy. My favorites conversations are hearing who likes what as a comfort food or what food makes them feel the happiest or reminds them of home.
- Why do some people not have the same passion as I do around food? Is it something from their past? Did they not grow up in a house where dinner wasn’t a core value to the family? Do they struggle with willpower and it’s easier to not care about food than to enjoy it too much?
- I love seeing the reactions of others from food I’ve made. That doesn’t mean they have to love it. I mean, did they like/not like it? What can I do differently to garner a better opinion? Was it so good that they moan with pleasure as it hits their taste buds?
I have such a vibrant passion around food, much in the same vein of my excitement of sharing books and stories that have left their mark on me. I want to share what matters to me with those who I hope will be able to appreciate my enthusiasm.
But then I realize that the idea surrounding food means more.
On a deeper level, for me anyway(s), food = love.
Not the food itself. I don’t have some crazy notion that food is what life is all about and that’s where I find my fulfillment.
I mean this: My being able to share my food is the equivalent of sharing my love with them. It’s one way that I can show love for another, meeting a basic need with myself wrapped up in the offering.
If it happens to be tasty and delightful, all the better!
When I make a dish, a meal, a treat, a dessert, a nibble, I willingly give my time, my energies, my thoughts, my passion to the process. Forethought and intention are well-tied into my actions, especially if it’s a dish I know they enjoy. My love of wanting to care for someone, to please and to satisfy, is poured into the item being made. Sometimes I’m very cognizant of this love; sometimes it sits in the back of my mind. But it’s still there no matter my level of awareness.
So when I am able to offer the fruits of my labor to others, it’s as if I’m saying, “Here’s a bit of me. I willingly give this piece of myself to you. And I hope that it’s enough.”
By the way, I don’t mean that they have to love the item being offered. I get that not everything I make will be liked as people have preferences and different tastes or I may have just created an awful recipe. (Yep, it has happened… way back in 1997, I think. )
I mean that I hope that the act of the offering will be received and accepted, not rejected. That my love for others is evident in whatever food is placed before them. That though “I love you” may never uttered, it is always implied in each morsel, in every bite.
And the more I think about it, the love idea applies just as well to moments when I share things that I didn’t make. A cookie from a local bakery, a bag of chips, a soda, honey sticks from the farmers’ market, a piece of chocolate from my secret stash. The actual act of sharing holds the same emotion for me even if it’s never understood by the recipient. It’s the idea of sending a little reminder: I’m thinking of you. You matter to me. I hope this gift brings joy to you.
I’m sure I’ve delved entirely too deeply on this thought. Most people aren’t as whacked out as I am. Most people make and/or eat food because they need it or it sounds good, not really thinking about the efforts.
I just happen to need to season my dishes with love, even if the partaker never knows my secret ingredient.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, we’re having ham and bean soup with skillet cornbread tonight. You want to join us? There’s plenty to share. I have enough food (and love) to go around.
(The Boy has hugged me repeatedly whence I uttered the words “cornbread”. See? Love. That’s the mark I hope to make… and leave until the next meal – where I’ll start the love offer all over again.)