I love food. Seriously love it. I’m all about a good meal. In fact, I want every meal to be a good meal. Even if it’s just peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I want them to be made with the best homemade bread, the creamiest peanut butter, and the freshest, locally-made strawberry jam. Because that’s how I am. Now I realize not every meal can be like that and I’m ok with that. But I do believe cooking and enjoying a well-made yummy meal is a form of art.
I’m currently reading the book Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table (with recipes) by Shauna Niequist.
Shauna and I are in agreement about many things food-related (and other things, too). In it, she shares her love for cooking and eating and the importance food plays in our lives. She has a special connection to food and to creating wonderful dishes. She also believes that sharing a meal with people is one of the most beautiful and blessed things you can do. I feel absolutely the same way.
Here are just a few of the many things she has to say about this topic:
What’s becoming clearer and clearer to me is that the most sacred moments, the ones in which I feel God’s presence the most profoundly, when I feel the goodness of the world most arrestingly, take place at the table.
It’s not, actually, strictly, about food for me. It’s about what happens when we come together, slow down, open our homes, look into one another’s faces, listen to one another’s stories. It happens when we leave the office and get a sitter and skip our workouts every so often to celebrate a birthday or an accomplishment or a wedding or a birth, when we break out of the normal clockwork of daily life and pop the champagne on a cold, gray Wednesday for no other reason than the fact that the faces we love are gathered around our table. It happens when we enter the joy and the story of the people we love, and we join together at the table to feed one another and be fed, and while it’s not strictly about food, it doesn’t happen without it.
What happens around the table doesn’t matter to a lot of people. But it matters more and more to me. Life at the table is life at its best to me, and the spiritual significance of what and how we eat, and with whom and where, is new and profound to me every day. I believe God is here among us, present and working.
What makes me feel alive and connected to God’s voice and spirit in this world is creating opportunities for the people I love to rest and connect and be fed at my table. I believe it’s the way I was made, and I believe it’s what matters.
But I do want you to love what you eat, and to share food with people you love, and to gather people together, for frozen pizza or filet mignon, because I think the gathering is of great significance.
When you eat, I want you to think of God, of the holiness of the hands that feed us, of the provision we are given every time we eat.
It’s about the table, and about all the other places we find ourselves eating. It’s about a spirit or quality of living that rides up when we offer one another life itself, in the form of dinner or soup or breakfast, or bread and wine.
And more than anything, I pray that when you put this book down, you’ll gather the people you love around your table to eat and drink, to tell stories, to be heard and fed and nourished on every level.
(I HIGHLY recommend this book!)
It has always been a joy to me to cook for people and to sit with them while they enjoy the fruits of my labor. It’s one of the ways I feel I can bless people. People are always more relaxed when they feel welcome at your table and when they’re eating something delicious. And relaxed people will open up and laugh and share and allow you the opportunity to get to know them. That’s what I love about it.
A few months ago, my friend, Lindsey, and I decided to start a cooking club. Lindsey is a fellow foodie, who also appreciates the art of cooking and gathering for a meal. We are always looking for good excuses to cook certain dishes or decorate our tables, and, while we do occasionally share meals with friends, we wanted to be more intentional about it. We discussed a plan, Lindsey came up with the name “Taste Buds”, and we invited a few friends. This last Saturday we had our first dinner. Our theme was a southern-inspired, “Paula QUEEN” night. Everyone brought a southern dish. I made homemade fried chicken smothered in gravy….not super healthy but definitely super delicious! Our side dishes were vegetable succotash, green beans, jalapeño cornbread, and sausage balls. For dessert, Lindsey made a chocolate Coca-Cola cake. It was all SOOO good! And the fellowship was even better! And the food and fun we had totally overshadowed the fact that we didn’t get to sit at our beautifully decorated table because the newly painted chairs weren’t dry, yet! We still got to look at the table and we still got to eat and talk and laugh, so it was exactly what we wanted it to be!
This was the first of what will hopefully be many months of sharing meals with my friends. It will probably look different each month. Different people, more elaborate food, more casual food, different themes, etc. Our main desire is to take some time to pause our busy lives and to come together with people we love to share and to appreciate good food. We have no desire to be exclusive, or too formal, or to do anything that would distract from the blessing of the art of fellowship. I’m looking forward to seeing how it evolves!
In the last few months I’ve been thinking and praying about my gifts and wondering how I could use them more and better. I know that one of my gifts and one thing I love is cooking for people and planning events. There are several ways God is showing me how I can use these gifts. “Taste Buds” is one of those ways. But I have a few other ideas and stirrings in my heart and I’m excited to see how God uses them!
Thanks for reading!