I can remember sitting on the counter when I was very small, helping my mother while she made supper. You know, to this day, my mother still credits me with being the first to have the idea of putting Grape Nuts cereal on salad (I think I may have been two or three at the time, and the box was conveniently at hand when her back was turned).
It feels like the kitchen has always been part of my world, even though I don’t think I have any special gift for cooking. I’m not a huge sweet eater. I don’t aspire to run a restaurant or a bakery. I’m definitely not one of those people that thinks the women of the world should get back to the kitchen, although I do suspect that something important may have been damaged when it began that both parents were encouraged to get out of the home and get jobs just so they could afford to buy… stuff.
I’ve been there, done that. I was juggling a child, a job, a husband, (and all those other million things in life) and cooking for my family on top of it was a chore. I lost most of the joy I always found in making food.
Joy, you say? Yes, joy.
Don’t get me wrong, I have several motivating reasons to be at the oven, not least of which is my son’s allergies and my developing processed-foodaphobia. But there is joy to be found in the kitchen, and I find it again every time I expand my circle to include someone else at my (sometimes proverbial) table. It isn’t the act itself, or that I like to eat, or even joy in achievement of making something difficult. So why do I go out of my way, to the point of hosting gatherings of family and friends for almost no reason at all?
When I make something for someone else and they experience a moment of happiness, it’s the best drug in the whole world. The normally introverted and socially awkward penguin that is me found a way to reach out and touch people and have a good impact, however briefly. And I’m totally addicted to it.
Sometimes I wonder. This impulse to connect with others through food and its simple pleasures… does this make me a validation junkie?
Or has society merely been trained to view others who may be struggling to find fellowship and a sense of community with contempt?
Photo by: Rachel Kirk