Food is such a basic need, yet there's so much more to food than just satisfying hunger.
Comfort foods like pot roast and peach cobbler take me back to earlier days, with faint memories of Grandmother's kitchen, or a mother's love. Certain aromas from the kitchen can bring on a wave that includes cousins, holidays, laughter and board games, or back to the days when my babies were small and I'd put a plate in front of them and cut up their meat.
I don't eat a lot of the Southern type food that I grew up on anymore, meals that always included a meat, often fried, a potato, often fried, and a vegetable, that was, yes, often fried. Include bread, dessert and sweet tea and you've got a West Texas dinner fit for a king, although he will likely be a king with high cholesterol after a lifetime of those kinds of meals.
And the gravy was just as important as what went under it. I think I learned to cook gravy before I learned to cook anything else. It's all in the rue, by the way.
Recently I helped serve a big breakfast at the high school. There was a lot of food left over, and we decided to pass plates out throughout the school. I watched the high school girls get into sharing food with their teachers, random acts of kindness that everyone benefited from. I saw the tension ease in the people in charge as they forgot their responsibilities for a few minutes and just enjoyed the task of making people happy with food. It was one of those simple, feel-good moments.
Last week I had a day where at least twice I fantasized about jumping on a plane to nowhere, all the time wondering if anyone would notice. I came home to hungry teenagers, who, like baby birds, were sitting there waiting for their mommy to feed them. Let me be clear that they were not supposed to be home, and no dinner plans had been considered.
I sucked it up and threw together a shrimp and veggie fried rice. While that may sound wonderful, it was not, although the ingredients were fresh and it wasn't altogether terrible. But just the process of standing in my kitchen, chopping and cooking, while the kids were in the living room, TV on, bantering back and forth, was so soothing that it took me by surprise. I might actually have to try this cooking thing more often.
Out of all the meals that come out of my kitchen, breakfast is the one I love the most, and the one I think the kids appreciate more than any other. Putting a hot plate in front of a sleepy kid who'sabout to have y et another 12 -hour power day is one of the best ways to say "I love you" that I know.
Years ago my daughter complained because I'm not one of those moms who greets them at the door after school with homemade cookies. I swear they want me barefoot in the kitchen, but June Cleaver I'm not. So one day someone gave me a tin of bought cookies, and I put the cookies in the microwave to warm them, then arranged them on a plate just as my daughter was coming in through the door.
Bless her heart. She was so happy, even if just for a moment.
Food can be funny, too.