Food is one of the ways in which I have always connected with people. My mother is an awesome cook and often preparing a wonderful meal is part of how she shows her love. I remember waking up every Sunday morning to the sound of my mother singing as she cooked us all an traditional West Indian breakfast. The smell of fried plantain, cornbeef, eggplant, fried dumplings and saltfish would drift upstairs to our bedrooms and rouse us (my brothers and I) out of our beds. It was a time of comfort and innocence.
Today the roles have changed and now I am the mother. It happened quite unconsciously but I find myself in my kitchen singing songs that move me as I prepare meals for family. I take the time to look for new recipes based in what I know to be their likes and dislikes. I am filled with pleasure watching them eat what I have worked hard to prepare because each bite is a part of my love. Food is more than how we sustain our bodies, it can be a form of love; an offering to share a part of yourself with another.
Today I bring my oldest child into the kitchen with me. I have been told that I am making him a sissy by teaching him to cook but I see it as an opportunity to share love with him. We speak about our day as he greases pans and I stand in front of the stove. We might sing songs together, or simply work quietly enjoying the stillness but in those moments I know that we are expressing our love.
Those who think that they don’t need to teach boys to to cook because they will one day have wives are missing a great opportunity to connect with their sons and they are sentencing them to a disconnection from a way to celebrate life. When my child grows up, if he pulls through a drive through it will be because he wants to and not because he has become so disconnected with life's processes that he cannot adequately feed himself. We have become so mechanized that we often forget simple pleasures. When we sit around the table sharing a meal together, we connect as a family and food is right at the center of it.
I think that we spend far to much time disciplining our eating patterns. We fuss about calories and fat content because we have wrongfully connected food with weight rather than sustenance and love. We have removed the pleasure from food and shame those who enjoy it. Seldom do we savour, we simply consume without thought or care. Food can be a connection to the earth and to each other if we take the time to treat it like the experience that it is meant to be.