I am a big believer in showing your love by preparing food for the person. Whenever my girls are down, I prepare their favorite meals. For Penny, it’s Shepherd’s pie, all warm with ground meat, corn, and mashed potatoes, baked in a casserole dish. For Wendy, it’s butternut squash risotto, bright orange and rich in flavor, complete with a little bit of nutmeg to finish. For Michael, he likes having his grandmother’s cookies, snickerdoodles, the rise and fall so quickly that they are a little bit chewy, topped with cinnamon and sugar. It’s a show of my love, and a reminder of her love, all wrapped up together.
I remember each time we brought Wendy home from the hospital, there was always someone who had prepared a meal for us. Whether it was a meatloaf or pasta salad, knowing that someone cared enough about us to prepare something so that we could take care of Wendy, well, that felt like love. Eating is one of the things that you need to do every day, it can be a pleasure or a chore, but when you are in crisis, you often become much less discerning about what you put in your body. You are eating to live, and you don’t always make good choices, especially when you have so much more to worry about.
This last year in the pandemic when people were locked down, I started giving away food. Though I have often given food away, during the pandemic it became a weekly event; I think the reason is for the connections food brings to people, even across distances, and especially when people are in crisis. I learned how to bake sourdough bread, with a gooey starter that we had named “Gluttony.” Every Friday I would bake four loaves of bread, the family would keep two loaves and we would deliver a loaf each to people whom we thought needed a little pick me up. On Thursday evening, the night before I would bake, we would discuss who would get the loaves. Maybe it was a couple who had just had a baby or a counselor who was suffering from covid fatigue, or maybe it was a neighbor who had a tree fall on her car (true story!) We even had a spreadsheet for each week to determine who would get a loaf of bread. Then Wendy would drive the car, Penny would do the running, drop the bread, ring the bell, and we would all drive away. Sometimes we needed to get the address of the person (both girls wanted to drop bread off at their teachers’ doors) and so I would have to tell them what we were doing. But we called ourselves the Bread Bandits and in that crazy time of isolation from others, we still managed to feel connected.
I still give away food, when someone is sick or grieving, I drop off some soup or some bread, or both! Nothing says love like food, it’s just that simple. And I’ve even started giving away hot dinners. If we have food from dinner that I don’t think will save well, I put it on our town facebook site and offer a free dinner or two, to someone who can pick it up that night. Honestly, it usually gets taken within ten minutes, and though I would love to think that it’s because of my cooking, I think it’s more likely that it’s because food is love, and people need more love in their lives.
So if you are reading this, cook something for someone you love. Leave food for someone who needs it. And thank someone who does the same for you.