“People ask me: Why do you write about food…? They ask it accusingly, as if I were somehow gross, unfaithful to the honor of my craft. The easiest answer is to say that, like most humans, I am hungry. But there is more than that.It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it… and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied… and it is all one.”
M.F.K. Fisher, The Art of Eating
There is something straight holy about a meal.
Behind the scenes the chef raises his magic wand bringing together seemingly unrelated blend of spices, there is that gentle squeezing of the lemon into a dish to give it a tangy taste, a generous splash of olive oil. And there is that crescendo of steam escaping the pots.
When it is all done- abracadabra -and right there those of us on the receiving end will be swooning over a plate.
So here is the thing I don’t want to carry on with life thinking of food as something which merely feels the stomach.
I want to take time to savor food and I want to remind myself of the magic of its creation.
I want to take in the beautiful moments created by dining experiences .
I want to take in the memories created and remember the stories shared around the table.
I know this one thing to be true; that the taste of a well put together meal can stay with us for years.
And when we taste that meal again it evokes memories.
Memories of a wedding day gone right, of a birthday party.
Memories of how a beautiful relationship begun or memories of the warm love of a parent.
Sometimes evoke fond memories of even those no longer with us.
Meal times can be that time when we fall in love with life the most.
So whenever I can, I welcome opportunity to whip a good meal and to invite others to my table.
And Oh I also love to be invited for a meal (I am trying to score some food invite from you).
In my last blog post I wrote about five things we take for granted but we shouldn’t.
Afterwards I thought, food should really have made the list, food should be the sixth among the things we take for granted.
So here is to reminding you to love your food and remember what it meant to savor before the busy schedule swallowed you up
“Tell me what is your plan to do with your wild and precious life?” Mary Oliver
How would you answer this question?
Here is how I would answer this question, my wild and precious life will be lived not just in a hurry but also around the table with friends and family.
My husband with whom I have shared many hearty meals with, would nod his head to this.
My two friends, Harith and Goitse both whom I have shared a sibling like bond with over the years would nod in agreement too that I take pleasure in savoring.
I am reminded of the epic moments of dining I shared with these two friends recently.
I am reminded of how we made time for each other.
Instead of wolfing down food rushing to the next big thing, we took time to savour our food. We ate food whose names I can’t even pronounce.
First we got a complimentary salad of olives, feta cheese, walnuts, mint leaves, spinach indigenous to Dubai and onion leaves.
This was followed by lentil soup and an Arabian mixed salad which had Moutabal, hummus, stuffed grape leaves(dolemah) and Tabuleh. (If you don’t know what this is blame Harith he was my food guide).
We were also served with aromatic saffron-scented basmati rice served with generous portion of butter and sprinkled with dried fruits.
Along side that was mixed grilled chicken, lamb and beef.
And of course the Roti that had such a pleasant taste kept coming.
I would remember how to the three of us this was more than just a meal.
We dug in unabashedly with faces full of smiles.
Our hearts flowed with joy.
We talked about our families, the events that filled the times we have been apart, the number of children that have been born, the joys and pains of parenting.
We talked about our lives.
Together we broke the bread.
It didn’t really matter that the picture was terrible (that of the four of us together with the waiter who joined us only for a picture-God bless him).
It is the little times like these and big meals like this that remind us we should not have to hurry through life taking meals for granted because it is during the meals times that friendships are strengthened.
Now your turn
Often we don’t realize the power of meals, we don’t realize the stories food creates for our loved ones.
This Easter holiday spare an hour or two to savor with the family and friends.
This Easter remember the story is incomplete without the breaking of the bread.
It should not surprise us that of all the things Jesus wanted to be used in his remembrance, he choose food.
He choose bread.
“On the night he was betrayed he took the bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
Yes there is a bigger story of salvation- but right there along the bigger story, there is the story of a shared meal.
I imagine it must have been consoling to the one who was about to die to sit and break the bread.
I like to imagine it gave a beautiful transition to a difficult moment of death.
This Easter and beyond choose to make food part of your bigger stories.
Break bread with friends and family.
Cook and have your table full of faces because bread is never meant to be broken only for an individual, it is meant to be broken on a table full of faces.