Prompt: If you’re celebrating Thanksgiving today (or even if you’re not!), tell us about the best cook in your family.
All week as I’ve delivered books to various daycares and assisted living centers, I’ve managed to pop in just as Thanksgiving dinner is being prepared or served. My soul has been assaulted by the most luxurious, decadent smells from lasagna to turkey to sweet potato pie and beyond. I’ve stared hungrily as elderly people are wheeled up to a crisp white tablecloth and presented with a well-laden plate and done my best to teach a comics workshop while various pots are bubbling in the corner, utterly wrecking my concentration. It’s been a trying week.
But the food is never quite as good as the smell. I don’t mean to cast aspersions against the people in my life who cook for me (especially since they can really cook), but I am always slightly disappointed with the food in my mouth versus the food in my nose. It’s never quite as moist, quite as flavorful, or quite as filling. It is normal, solid, real.
The joy of eating has long been, for me at least, the anticipation. It’s getting to watch someone put together disparate ingredients to make something better. It’s getting to taste and sample the meal as it comes together. It’s walking out of your bedroom and pausing to inhale, allowing the aromas to mingle together and fill your body. It’s the fellowship and fun of being underfoot, pouring wine and drinks, forcing people to try this one dish, grabbing an ingredient and hurriedly throwing it in the pot, and talking about meals past. Having it all come together in the end is important, but the act has finality, and the moment is too soon spoiled by rapid eating, feeling full, and needing to go back to the real world. When you’re preparing a meal, you’re fully living in the moment, engaging all your faculties, and just being.
This is why I don’t much care for mealtimes. They’re just about putting food in your body. Everyone is inevitably too busy actually eating to really talk, whether because they’re hungry or simply don’t want their food to cool/warm. It’s hard to maneuver in a conversation much less one with true substance. So, yes, please feed me (seriously, I’m starving here), but know that I would rather we cook, snack, and be together. That’s what I really want.