When I think of food, I think of good times with friends, shared meals and laughter. So when friends say to me they think of food simply as fuel – you know, the stuff you have to put in your car to make the engine run and not much more – then I feel a bit sad for them.
For me, food is part of so many of the good things about life – memorable moments. Okay, there’s no denying first and foremost, food is necessary sustenance and I’m very lucky I can choose what I eat to remain nourished and healthy. My ethos, however has always been that if I have to eat, then I might as well enjoy what I eat. Consequently, I’ve also always taken an interest in food and over the years, have learned to cook very well.
Think of it like this:
Food brings us together. It’s for sharing, laughter, families, love. It doesn’t matter what the occasion is, there’s more than likely food involved.
New love often involves food. How many romantic proposals take place at a lovely restaurant over a beautiful meal with champagne? Quite a few I’d guess. There’s even romantic comedy movie proposals, with a ring being presented in some sort of food or food serving platter and it’s eaten by accident – or by a dog – but it’s always retrieved and there’s a usually happy outcome.
Food is about cooking together.
We mixed up the butter and sugar, then added the eggs, one at a a time – Ava on a stool and adding the ingredients I’d helped her measure out. We rolled the biscuit dough and she pressed it, then made the dents for the jam. We then put the jam in the centres – one tray each.
I forgot to take photos of the finished products before they were packed up for them to take home for her school lunches during the week.
But that’s not the most important part of cooking together. We had quality time and teaching her to cook is something that will stay with her for life.
Back in my childhood I remember times when my Mum was sick a neighbour or relatives would bring us food. A casserole or cake. Once we were given a pumpkin pie – a real American style pumpkin pie with the canned kind of pumpkin I’d never seen before (and didn’t see then, because we were given the pie, not the canned pumpkin). It was amazing. Delectable. My Dad loved it too. Being American, it took him right back home to the States for the fleeting moments we shared it.
That’s the other thing about food. You often remember experiences, such as travel and other events, that are related to meals and food.
When we were doing up our first house to move into in Melbourne, our Turkish neighbours would pass us freshly made büreks or sweet pastries and other goodies over the fence to keep our spirits up. It was winter, we had to gut our house then rebuild it, so these treats were a blessing. After we moved in, if we ever visited, we would always be greeted with tea and sweets, plus a sprinkling of rosewater on our hands. The hospitality in their home always involved food.
Flavours and cooking smells can transport you back to childhood or to a place you visited. Food is memories and occasions – weddings, wakes, christenings and birthdays.
I love the thought of cooking in regional Italy with wonderful families gathering and cooking for a village celebration, then dished out on massive plates for sharing at huge tables, filled with smiling people of all ages.
It’s the chatter and laughter and focus on providing goodness that I’d enjoy, plus the cooking of course. Just the thought of the stories and experiences – both food and life related – makes me smile.
One day, perhaps I’ll be lucky enough to do that.
So, do you still think of food purely as fuel? Hopefully not – food is joy and happiness and, when so many people in this world die from malnutrition and don’t even have fresh water to drink, just remember how blessed you are to have the luxury of good food and all it represents in our lives.
Then tell me food is just fuel.