Why Food?

Why food?

Why is food so special anyways? What is its mystique that more people will gather around the housewife cooking in the kitchen than around the TV in the living room? What about it makes us spend so much money on it, take so long to enjoy it properly, and rave about it in places like this blog? What makes people go to school to devote their entire lives to creating with food?

What is it?

I would be a fool if I thought I was wise enough to try answering even half of those questions properly. However, I have a couple thoughts to share.

I think a great place to start is our very own humble apartment kitchen where all of the creations posted here have come to life. It is the tiniest room in the house (besides the bathroom!) and feels so cramped sometimes with two people trying to work in the same space that you have to surface for air before plunging back in. It gets hot with the stove and oven running, and the Amazing Omnivorous Child has a penchant for helpfully unloading the contents of the lower cupboards onto the floor and stacking them in neat little towers of canned goods. There is very little counter space and everything seems to butt into everything else's spot.

Two hopeless romantics. And goofballs.

And yet, there is something indescribable in the twinkle in my wife's eye when she finally gets her favorite pie recipe right. In the same vein, albeit much less dignified, there is something in me that begs me to do my happy dance when I finally get my asian stir fry sauce right. And the way that the smell of food begs you to reach out and taste, and to dance with your spouse in the kitchen.

So, my first conclusion is that food brings joy. Somehow, in some special way, our act of creating and fashioning with food mirrors God's creative action in our lives and in the world. We are made in His image, after all. So when we create, we are joyful because we are imitating our Maker.

Food also fills us, satisfies us, changes our outlook on the world. There is nothing like coming home from a bad day at work to the smell of freshly-cooked pizza, or the sizzling sound of bacon frying on a morning where you would rather have stayed asleep all day. Food reminds us that we are human and limited, that we must eat to survive, and yet also shows us how good life's gifts are while we have them.

My second conclusion, then, is that food reminds us of all the goodness involved with our mortality. Our strengths and our frailties sometimes lie so close together it is truly scary.

And lastly, food has the oddest power of drawing people together. Eating is an action that is strangely only really properly carried out when one is sitting down at a table using both hands to do the work. And nobody wants to sit alone. Meals, especially this most recent Thanksgiving meal and the upcoming Christmas feasts, pull together people that many times would never find the time to sit down and talk to one another. People open up around food; it relaxes them and invites conversation. People laugh and cry over food, propose marriage over a meal, toast momentous occasions over dinner. People love food.

So, finally, food is communal. It is grown in community (ideally so, anyways), prepared in community, and consumed in community. It is one of the many mediums of communication we have available to us as human beings. Who isn't delighted when someone bakes them a delicious chocolate cake for a surprise birthday party? Food can make peace, can say "I love you," can make someone feel special.

Food and its preparation is an act of true love. Food is good.


-- Nick


  1. Thank you. This post kind of wrote itself, which was an odd experience but cool nonetheless.


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