How often do you hear people say, “I love food?” Food is something that many of us fortunate people take for granted every time we reach for a snack, sit down for a meal, or grab something on the go to quell our hunger. It almost becomes awkward and difficult to discuss what food means to us on a personal level, however tangible that food may be. But for some, it is a vehicle to express emotion.
Having watched videos and received brief introductions to the spiritual nature of food in other cultures, it can be difficult to draw parallels to personal experiences. However loose these ties may be, I keep coming back to my grandmother’s kitchen. I spent many days with her learning hands-on. When my grandfather would leave for a while, I always wanted to bake for him. Even if the cake we made was from a box, the efforts of preparation and decoration sent a message of care. The addition of a stick of butter (not included in the directions) just made the generic mix more personal, not to mention the fact that it made the cake taste much, much better.
Years later, the days spent in my grandmother’s kitchen remain a cornerstone of how I approach food. People often joke about proud mothers sending their children off on the first day of school, taking photographs to show off later regardless of it being embarrassing or annoying. But, after preparing a meal, it isn’t uncommon for me to take a picture and send it to a friend. Why shouldn’t I? I created that.
I am fortunate enough to have a group of friends from high school who regard food in the same manner as I do. For holidays, we get together and spend an evening cooking a good meal instead of getting each other gifts. It started as a way to do something special while still operating on the budget of college students, but it has become so much more personal than a wrapped gift. The time it takes to cook the meal gives us more time to catch up, to take a break from hectic schedules and escape the moving world outside. It’s therapeutic.
For me, this is the fundamental concept of food. It is extremely hard for me to separate myself from food and objectify it, hence an entry in which I talk about myself (I promise I’m not vain). But when I think about it, that’s what food should be like. Isn’t that a much more uplifting way to approach something so necessary?