Food serves a purpose. Multiple purposes in fact. To fill the body with nutrients so it can burn calories to use for energy, but it also serves to nourish us. I mean truly satisfy the inner parts of us all that find joy from sitting around a table giving each other the ultimate gift which grounds us to the Earth. By creating flavorful dishes but more so by sharing with the intention offering food as love, we nourish one another.
I’ve watched my grandmother tirelessly bake a twelve-layer lemon cake year after year just as my great-grandmother did in the years past. It’s not because she loves spending hours baking the layers, cooking the lemon curd or finally icing each layer and carefully placing one on top of the other. It’s the joy she see’s on my grandpa’s face when he takes a bite. It’s the slightly higher pitched crack in her grandson’s voice when he asks if she had the time to make it this year. These are the feelings that make our souls full.
The great feeling we get when we cook for others is why we stand over the stove offering tastes and spoonfuls to sample the meal yet to come. It’s a symbol of affection to say, “Here, this is so good I want to share this with you!” It’s partially why we sit down to take time to recognize the effort it took to put food on the table. Food is more than creating meals that taste good; it’s about sharing in the experiences to fuel each other with happiness.
The hours creating, concocting, perhaps spilling or dropping, and the uncertainty whether the food will even taste good, it’s all a part of a communal experience. “Breaking bread” extends beyond the tangible act of providing sustenance to another person. We share food as a gift and in doing so we foster connection. I love that food provides moments to bond with people I love or even strangers over a meal. This makes my heart full. My best therapy is cooking for someone knowing I am giving nourishment to another human being. As I have grown in my healing journey this is how I look at preparing food for myself, I am loving myself by cooking and eating food that will heal my body. This is one of the best practices of self-love that I do multiple times a day.
This time of the year becomes special because these exact moments heighten with friends and family who gather to reflect and remind one another how important each of us are. For me, it offers the opportunity to share health through the food I make, showing just how nourishing real, whole foods are. It makes giving food to a loved one all the more sentimental when I know I am nourishing their soul along their body.