A former boss and dear friend used to say Food is Love. She would leave the office long after the rest of us (who were no strangers to the midnight oil) had cleared out and return the next day with a homemade birthday cake that so embodied the person she was baking for I’d tell her she should stop doing PR for the food and just make it for a living. But even though the gorgeous-as-it-was-delicious chocolate peanut butter cup cake (not to be confused with a cupcake) she made me for my first birthday on the West Coast warmed my long-distance heart, I’d missed the point.
Food is love not because you make a hobby of searching for the city’s best pumpkin curry or because your job perks include free Madagascar vanilla bean pods and an excuse to learn everything there is to know about Wine Spectator’s scoring system. Food is love because sometimes, when the world has slipped beyond your control and you can’t bear to see the people you would give anything for in pain, you take all that pent up hurt and everything you wish you could give them and pour your whole heart and whole-nutrient vegetables into a Dutch oven. It might be because you don’t know what else to do, and the currency of circumstance might be dollars, but I truly believe that when what you put in your body comes from your heart you can feel it in your soul.
Some terrible things have happened to wonderful people in my life since I last wrote. Some even more horrible things have happened to people I don’t know by name – regime after regime in the Middle East gunning down its own people, the earth’s foundation erupting, wiping out lives and all their structures to be followed by a man-made horror whose consequences we may not even grasp within our lifetime. To try to make sense of any one of these things is staggering. But each shard of inevitability reminds me we have nothing but who we are and what we do today.
Reading an article in this week’s New York Times about the outpouring of monetary support for Japan’s relief efforts when they’re financially OK made me think about something a soup kitchen director told me when I first looked into volunteer opportunities around Thanksgiving. It’s the one day they’re overstaffed. If you really want to make a difference, come in on any one of the other 364. But even more importantly, I believe any difference we can make starts here, now, with the people we love.
There aren’t words in any language to express how grateful I am to live a life so rich in nourishment, not just for my body but for my soul. I’ve always been thankful for the incredible cultural opportunities I’ve had. But maybe for the first time, I’ve been thinking about what it means to truly count your blessings – and while I love my Le Creuset it’s not among them. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has touched my life with your courage, your perseverance and your perspective. I hope you can feel the love I’m sending out and I hope you know my heart carries you with me, always.
And a special spoonful of love for those in the neighborhood - I just split an Eatwell Farms CSA trial with the Lovely Miss MT and am planning to spend my spring helping you taste just a little piece of it.