Every time our friends come over to spend an evening with us, I get excited about what we can cook for them.
At first, there was an element of “PLEASE LIKE ME” to the food. If our food was good enough, we might be good enough. Perhaps the stink of “social pariah” might not be so pungent if the aromas from our kitchen were pleasing.
But they proved to us that we were more to them than just a well stocked fridge and wizard sauce makers. We had conversations where we got to know bits of our pasts, parts of what make us who we are today. We discussed favorite authors and books, sharing a few favorites with each other. We have talked about religion, politics, social justice – all of the things that shouldn’t be discussed in polite company. We have laughed hard enough that we’ve needed to take ibuprofen at the end of the night. Ours is a young friendship, but it has the making of something lasting.
And we’ve eaten together.
Every time, they will tell us, “You don’t have to feed us to for us to visit.” And I believe them. But when we’ve made plans to get together, I still pull out my computer and start searching new recipes to try, or think about old favorites that I want to show off.
The truth is, there is something intimate about cooking for another person, and I have come to appreciate that.
Cooking requires our time, our imagination, a bit of ourselves. When we prepared a shrimp scampi, our hands were on each of the shrimp as we pulled off the shells. When we made waffles with a strawberry compote, I tasted the strawberries to check the sweetness. When we made wings, I used my memory to recreate an Alabama white sauce that we’ve done a few times, using my creativity in making substitutions for some of the items I didn’t have in the house.
Cooking involves all of the senses. Pressing down with our fingers on the piece of meat to check if it is cooked properly. Looking to see if we have the nice caramelization we want on the onions and garlic. Smelling the aromas of charcoal and wood chips when we open the grill and a roll of smoke pours out. Hearing the bubbles on the bottom of the pan as the broth begin to simmer for a risotto. Tasting to see if we’ve achieved the right balance of salt and acidity in the honey chipotle sauce. Our whole bodies are involved in the preparation of the meal we’re serving.
Jesus took a cup of wine in his hands and gave thanks to God. Then he told the apostles, “Take this wine and share it with each other. I tell you that I will not drink any more wine until God’s kingdom comes.”
Jesus took some bread in his hands and gave thanks for it. He broke the bread and handed it to his apostles. Then he said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Eat this as a way of remembering me!”
After the meal he took another cup of wine in his hands. Then he said, “This is my blood. It is poured out for you, and with it God makes his new agreement.” (Luke 22:17-20, CEV)
Here, our table is the living room floor. Our eucharist is chicken wings and Coke Zero. But when we gather, we share what we have with one another. We share our friendship, our home, our food, our lives.
We take, we eat, we remember.