The power of food

Food brings people together. There's just something about it. When you gather around a table, or TV trays or the kitchen counter; when food is present people gather, people relax, they let down their guard. What is it? I'm not really sure, but there is a power around food. James Beard says "food is our common ground, a universal experience". Maybe that's why there's power in it; it is a language everyone can understand, can appreciate, can enjoy together in all it's diversity. 

Food, more often than not, requires face to face interaction, which is so much more meaningful than screen to screen. People long for face to face connections, and food brings both friends and strangers together. A few years ago I attended a cooking class with a friend. We all gathered around a large island and created wonderful dishes. Sharing tasks, chatting and then sitting down to enjoy each course we made. Did we leave as friends? No, but each person sat and conversed with those around them, learning things about each person, discussing the dishes we created. I have also been to a few restaurants where, rather than having private tables, people sat at large community tables, you sitting next to rather than across from the person you were with. 

Sharing food is a beautiful expression of hospitality in every culture around the world. When we gather around food, wherever it might be, that place can become a sanctuary for all who gather around it...a place of acceptance, a place of healing, a place of beauty, a place of learning and transformation. If you have not read Jen Hatmaker's book "For the Love", you really need too. She has so many good nuggets of truth. In her chapter titled Porches as altars, she shares so many of those nuggets about gathering on porches, and around tables. How those two things are just as powerful as any sanctuary or altar. Loneliness is prevalent in our communities, and as she says, we have the keys...what are they?..."they are tables and couches, beef stew and crusty french bread, a messy kitchen tells us someone cared enough to feed us"

Have you ever brought a new neighbor a loaf of banana bread? A new mother and father a home cooked meal? Have you delivered Christmas goodies to a widow down the street? Fed your children's friends late at night? Have you ever made a family recipe and it was like you were transported to another time? Food not only nourishes our bodies, but it can nourish our souls, our spirits and our minds? Some of my best memories are having my daughter's entire soccer teams over for dinners or bonfires. Really, I just love feeding people. Don't you?

Even if all you can serve is popcorn, or spaghetti, or peanut butter sandwiches, or grill steaks for doesn't matter how great or small, how inexpensive or how expensive, how simple or how elaborate...what matters is the love that went into it. 

Food evokes memories, stories, laughter, tears. My mom told me a story of how she once was making my paternal grandma a birthday cake. It was an expensive cake to make and my grandma at the time, wasn't the nicest to my she was baking the caked, the batter fell on the floor. My mom scooped it up and baked it. That story still cracks me up to this day. Every Christmas when I make these Italian Sprinkle Cookies, I'm transported back to family kitchens where my grandma, great grandma,  and aunts made wonderful Italian cookies. 

With Joy Unquenchable,


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