Food is love. Love is Food.
When I am in love I want to cook. To cook, and nurture and care for my beloved and show them all the ways that I love them. I will spend an inordinate amount of time planning and preparing meals, pack their lunches, get up early to make home cooked breakfasts and in every way love them through each bite of nourishing, delicious food. When I was a baby chef and still in my classically French trained mode that love was presented as elaborately coursed meals of beautifully prepared cuts of meats, runny and bloomy cheeses, creamy potageres, decadent chocolate concoctions. Now, of course, I show my love thorough sumptuous vegan comfort food, whole grain salads, show off creations of elaborate and painstaking plant based inventions.
When I was travelling around the world the commonality of each country I visited was the love that the mothers and grandmothers would imbue each and every dish they prepared for their family and loved ones. Since my favorite way to travel was not on the well beaten tourist path I often visited and stayed in some of poorest parts of the globe and yet these places were not as you would expect them to be. Despite the lack of abundance the meals are prepared with the utmost care given to their nourishing and enriching qualities despite the lack of variety and quantity. None of the utensils that equipment that seem so essential were present yet they were able to turn out meals as elaborate and complex as those in a professional kitchen. As a guest one witnesses food as the ultimate vehicle of hospitality and welcome and as a member of the tribe one is loved and nourished in the most basic and complete way by the care given. These are foods cooked with love.
We receive and send extremely mixed up messages regarding food and love. I have heard many people say to me over the course of my career that if they didn’t eat everything put in front of them then their mother or caretaker would act as if they didn’t love her. Many couples use food as a substitute for sex and for people that don’t have a partner food is equated with love or as a substitute for love. The endorphin rush from eating chocolate or satiety is chemically indistinguishable supposedly from falling in love. And given the amount of morbid obesity in this country it would seem as if using the food drug is a chronic habit that is growing rapidly.
The disparity of the two perspectives is staggering. We, who have so much, are consuming at a exponentially increasing rate food that does little more than fill us with empty calories and for reasons that is firmly entrenched in feeding us with the wrong messages. Rather than cooking nourishing food that feeds us body and soul we stuff ourselves with junk devoid of nutrients. Rather than feeling good about our food choices and eating we chastise ourselves endlessly, berating our lack of will power.
I often listen to people say that when they were children they were feed as if food was a substitute for love. It is no substitute but love in its most real and basic form. This week’s exercise is to feed yourself with love; treating each bite as the nourishing gift that it is. Take the power away from the mixed up messages that you were fed as a child and a young adult and reclaim the love of food. Nourish your body with love and love the earth by making sure that your meal is sustainable and environmentally friendly. Engage in the foreplay of preparation and planning with the same passion as the enjoyment of the actual act itself. Food is love. Love yourself.