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Friday, January 28, 2011

Perspective: What Food Means Pt. 2

We spoke earlier in the week about the meaning of food on a global, put-down-your-weapons-and-pick-up-your-baguettes sort of scale, but there's a second side to food that's much more personal. It's no more or less important than the global food crises, which might seem a little ludicrous to say, but please hear me out.

What I'm referring to is the mental and emotional impact of food on a personal level...the way I feel when someone makes a meal for me, or when I can cook for others, the warmth and comfort of soups or curries, the delight of a home made truffle. Yes, it's a small scale and yes, it doesn't immediately appear to change the world, however; food communicates love. And in its own ways large and small, love is the only thing that ever really does change the world for the better, isn't it?

Whenever I cook for people, I imagine that I am, in some way, directly transmitting my love to them. Not "love" in the sense that I consider them my closest friends or akin to family or any of that...it's more of a love for my fellow man. It may seem kind of silly but with just the right soup or curry or with a long-slaved-over risotto or the perfect roasted vegetables, I can feel all that effort as love for whoever I'm cooking for. When they take their first bites and their eyes get big and they tell me it's delicious, I believe they can feel that love.

So what does all this matter? Well, our society continually pushes a solitary and self-reliant existence. We have to actively go beyond the realm of what's considered "normal" to connect to other people, not via keyboards and screens but to actually, legitimately connect, which seems to be a lost art these days. Making food for someone can bridge that gap.

But another use for food - perhaps more important - is a silent affirmation of affection, love, and comfort. When someone close to you needs comfort and you don't know how to give it, baking bread for them or making a meal can be a great start. It shows that you care enough to take the time out off your day to create something specifically for them. We are rarely shown that kind of individual attention anymore and therefore, becoming the recipient of it has a potent effect...not to mention that it can open up the lines of communication.

Beyond being a necessary substance to sustain life, food carries with it all sorts of abilities to elicit emotion, to comfort and nourish and to heal. It's important that we not forget this effect for our own well-being and that of others.

Cook for the ones you love.

The Calm Cook

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