This last couple weekends, I got to do something which brings me deep satisfaction: cooking for people I love. The first weekend, some friends came through while hitchhiking, and this past weekend my sister and best friend visited me. The hitchhikers unexpectedly came through again, as well, so I had four people in my one-bedroom apartment to feed and entertain. It was very nice.
Relationships start in the kitchen, with asking people what they like to eat and delegating tasks and finding out if someone’s hopeless at chopping onions or bakes from a box mix. Cooking with people, cooking for people often teaches me whether I’ll get along with them, seeing if we can compatibly dance around a cramped, complicated space wielding knives.
I can think of some really lovely food memories. Like the lazy Sunday when me and a fella watched movies all day and made an enormous breakfast of sausage and biscuits at 3 p.m. He’s the only guy who’s ever cooked for me. Or when me and Elise spent an hour making macaroni and cheese with jalapeno and curry in the sauce. She’s the first to admit she’s less of a cook than me but I still can’t make curry as good as hers. I’ve also tested out new friends, sometimes disappointed to find a cool guy is a picky eater or delighted to find a tiny, unassuming gal likes her stir fry really spicy.
Feeding people always makes me feel good, probably because it’s so rare for people my age to get together and cook a meal and eat it together. I like it. It’s what makes a few random human beings into a family.
A recent essay on cooking by Mario Batali included this great line: “There are two activities in life in which we can lovingly and carefully put something inside of someone we love. Cooking is the one we can do three times a day for the rest of our life without pills.”
Penis references aside, I like the basic idea here: that home cooking is an expression of love. I don’t get to see the people I love every day any more, which I dearly miss for many reasons, but sharing dinner seems like the center of it all.