On food being the medium to beautiful relationships.
One of my favorite desserts is tiramisu. What’s not to love about ladyfingers lightly dipped in rum and espresso then blanketed with a sweet cloud of whipped mascarpone and dusted in cocoa and chocolate curls?
Tiramisu is a dessert that is either heavenly or boring. You have to find the perfect balance in all the flavors, or you’ll be overwhelmed or underwhelmed. Recently, I had a perfectly balanced dish of tiramisu.
My husband and I have known Nathan since he was a boy and we’ve had plenty of meals together over the years. Some I’ve made, some he’s made. We also have shared in many community meals at church and holiday feasts together.
The surprise tiramisu on Mother’s Day wasn’t the first dish Nathan has brought to my door. Once when my family and I were sick, a pot of fresh-made broccoli cheese soup arrived. Nathan served me, Manuel, and the other sickies in the house and cheered us up with his usual candor. Other times Nathan has dropped in with steak and wine, or tacos and margaritas.
I know, life is tasty in my community.
I’m quite blessed to be part of an amazing food culture within my small community of friends. We eat really well together. Knowing a couple of professional chefs and enjoying food from their tables is one of the joys of being part of that culture.
Learning from them while also sharing my knowledge and cultural food traditions is a pleasure for me. I wrote about a another chef in my community and the meal he and I made together for a celebration in this article:
What Rich Cultural Diversity Tastes Like at an American Monastery
Celebrating a life commitment with a feast of food from multiple cultures.
Because food is one of my love languages, it means so much to me when these surprise gifts of deliciousness and comfort appear at my door.
It’s not lost on me the love that went into them.
And the love — the relationships — is really the heart of each meal.
I enjoy delicious food, love to cook for others and feed them well, and I appreciate hospitality. Surprise plates of tiramisu are especially appreciated. The thing is though, without the friendships and relationships that bring people ‘round the table in the first place, the food wouldn’t be nearly as good.
Breaking Bread Together
When I was a kid, my parents had an expression I didn’t understand. When they had forgiven someone for an offense but knew to keep their distance from them, to have healthy boundaries, they would say,
“I forgive them, but I’m not ready to break bread with them.”
Being a kid, I didn’t understand that sitting down to a meal with other people is an intimate act. I didn’t understand why my parents would make the point about “breaking bread” with others.
I know without a doubt now, while nourishing ourselves, the company we keep feeds our souls. Which is why my parents didn’t want to “break bread” with toxic relatives.
Sitting down to a meal with others is about more than having to share in conversation and look someone in the eye across the table. When we feed the body, we are sustaining life, not just taking part in a pleasurable act. Eating is a necessary life function, so the act of it is one that permeates our lives.
Having a meal with others implies friendliness at the very least. It builds community and bridges between strangers across all cultures. There is a reason that food rituals and traditions are part of every religion across the globe.
Not Every Meal Needs To Be Gourmet
I’ve been mentioning gourmet food made by a professional chef but certainly not every meal need be or should be gourmet eating. Simple meals calling people to the table provide an opportunity to bond through conversation or comfortable quiet even.
In my house, we eat a wide variety of foods, and I cook various dishes throughout the year. Some meals are quick and easy, while others may take me hours to prepare.
The food provides the medium for me to express my love. For the people I’m feeding, they experience nourishment, comfort, and possibly joy. The meal gives us a reason to sit together ‘round the table enjoying our relationships and nourishing one another’s souls.
If you’ve found yourself wishing you had someone who would drop in with a surprise plate of tiramisu, take a cue from my friend Nathan Grajeda and go do it for someone else. It doesn’t have to be gourmet food! Take a plate of those cookies you just made, a loaf of homemade bread, or some Chinese take-out. Use the food as an excuse to catch up with one another and build your relationship.
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About the Author
Jessica Archuleta writes from her life experience. She’s a Top Writer on Medium in food and cooking. She also writes on culture, homeschooling, education, writing, religion, spirituality, monasticism, motherhood, parenting, and shares poetry and creative writing pieces. Jessica blogs at Every Home a Monastery and Engage the Culture and is a co-editor for the One Table, One World publication.