Learning to cook is a relatively new skill of mine. Food has not always been my friend. When I was 16, I had a raging eating disorder with which I battled for 3 long years. Food was the enemy I looked at with disdain and distrust. Time has mellowed me, however. Some of my sharper edges have rounded, and are replaced with a softness I’ve come to appreciate. I may always lean toward the driven, focused, goal oriented personal characteristics that saw me through many past challenges, but I also appreciate the pause that comes from moments in the kitchen quietly stirring a risotto.
I say all of this because loving and appreciating food has shown me how to love and appreciate myself. In a small way, I offered myself an olive branch, and ended a war waging inside of me for many years. Where food provided no emotion in the past, it now brings forth love, warmth, and closeness, and I’ve learned a few things along the way.
Daily gatherings bring forth anticipation and excitement. It doesn’t matter if I am gathering with 1 other or 10 others, the anticipation of a good meal among friends and family is surrounded by expectation. The rich aroma in the air, the light crackle of food sauteeing, the clink of silverware pulled from the drawer, and the feeling of connection that sharing a meal brings all coalesce.
Food unifies. There is something equalizing about sharing a meal, something almost akin to vulnerability. My family is diverse. We have varied backgrounds, divorces and second marriages, blended families, and much diversity of thought, but that all melts away when we gather around the table. Rather than a distraction, our diversity is an asset. The conversation and personal experiences are rich, and provide everyone with something to add.
Cooking for others is an intimate gesture. It’s really not so much about the food. Cooking for those I love is important to me, and is one way I show my appreciation for them. The meal doesn’t need to be gourmet, that’s the beauty of gatherings. I always say food tastes better when someone you love prepares it. In looking back over the years, I think it’s because there is an essence added to the food. Something almost indescribable that makes the meal so much more than its list of ingredients.
As you gather, take time to pause. Take in the sights and sounds around you. Quiet the mind and allow yourself full appreciation for the current moment, and listen to the quiet murmurs of your soul.
“All that is important comes in quietness and waiting.” ~ Patrick Lindsay