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Cooking with Care

July 30, 2017

You may have heard about how food tastes better when it’s made with the intangible ingredients of care and love. I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the past couple of weeks, while my church has acted as hosts for Greater Portland Family Promise.

 

Being a host congregation involves a lot of activities, including spending the night at church and hanging out with the families, but many of them revolve around food: preparing meals, sharing dinner with the guest families, putting out breakfast foods, and helping get lunches together. It makes sense – food is, after all, a basic staple of life.

 

I volunteered for a couple of sleepovers, but given my food focus, it was inevitable that I also signed up to contribute some food.

 

Before our host weeks started, I hadn’t thought much about what kind of food I’d make, or what it would mean to the family (we only had one family until close to the end). Then I met them, and everything changed.

 

For my first overnight, I arrived early enough to spend a little time talking with the family, a young couple with two daughters. I also had fun playing with the girls, one adorable and very energetic toddler and one infant with a beautiful smile.

 

The time spent made me feel connected to them. Suddenly I wanted to make something special. They said they were okay with any kind of food, and grateful for whatever we might make, but still, I wanted to do something a little extra.

 

That desire only increased after the parents cooked for us! After their first week, they prepared a feast: roasted chicken with a tasty sauce of chicken liver and olives; homemade bread; an eggplant and onion dish; a yellow bean dish; and homemade French fries.

 

The food was delicious, but it went beyond that. The family has so little – they wouldn’t be in the program otherwise – that it makes me consider how much it must mean to them to be able to offer something back, to show their own appreciation and care through food. I imagine, too, how wonderful it would feel to cook your own meal again. I know that for me, no matter how good other people’s food is, it’s not the same.

 

I therefore decided to try something new and cook lamb in my crock-pot. I think it came out okay, and I hope my care in making it, and my desire to make them feel welcomed, came through to them, that they would feel how much I wish the best for them.

 

I don’t know if I’ll see them again, but I am so glad for this opportunity to help, and to remember how connected we can be, to ourselves and each other, through the simple act of cooking with care.

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