Cooking, Eating and Satisfaction

2012 December 16
by Grace Boyle

I recently came across this statement from Deborah Madison – a chef, author and woman I greatly respect – which she shares below on the topic of purpose.

“It’s important to remember that when you’re feeding someone, including yourself, it’s an honor. It’s about pleasure and nurture and respect. We all come to the table with different kinds of baggage –hungers that can’t be satisfied, or fear, or perhaps an illness that makes food problematic, or even good appetite and high expectations – you name it. Cooking for any or all of these qualities is a big job, but a satisfying one.” — Deborah Madison

It was Sunday morning when I read this. My black tea was steaming into the quiet air beside me and no one else was up. Our dog was curled up next to me and the refrigerator buzzed monotonously in the kitchen.

I looked up and immediately was flooded with memories of food and gathering. My grandparents table where there were so many dishes you could barely see the table beneath it. My mother’s table filled with vegetables that came from her garden just outside our dining room window. My small, square kitchen table where I’m learning to be a grown-up and cook alongside my boyfriend in our apartment. A checkered table in Italy filled with olive oil, a carafe of red wine and spaghetti. It goes on, but it’s always worth remembering the tables.

I usually reserve the food talk for my food blog but in the end, it doesn’t matter where I write it.

Food moves me.

I believe food is our common denominator. It brings us together in times of pain and in times of celebration, food is a focal point. It nourishes us. It brings us together no matter our beliefs or upbringing. Naturally, it has different value and meaning to each person, but for me, I am energized by the thought of it’s interconnection and the way it weaves us together.

Food also has a place that may not be so positive. There are many people that don’t have food or perhaps we are fearful of it, its repercussions, our weight or our health. I have those darker places with food. We likely all do, to different degrees. I do feel grateful for the relationship I have come to find with food, but because of the darker places, it’s something I choose to honor and respect instead of fear (food). I try, at least. I also remember it is quite literally fuel that keeps us alive.

Deborah’s quote reminded me as we gear up for the holiday season and the end of 2012, there will undoubtedly be food. Family. Friends. Gatherings. In different forms. Maybe it won’t all be happy. Maybe it will. I do know there is a great amount of respect I feel for food, those that farmed the food, produced the food, envisioned the food, created the food and even ate the food.

We all come to the table with different “baggage” but cooking for “all of these qualities is a big job, but a satisfying one.” I can’t wait to cook for my loved ones as I leave shortly for two weeks to unplug and hug friends and family I haven’t seen all year, closer.

How does food define you or your life?

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