Sharing good food is a strangely intimate act. As any living thing in this universe does, we must all partake. Frequently. Yet the human being elevates food beyond simple nutrition, and always has. There is something strange about the human spirit that wants more, that needs more, than just minerals and calories.
Food is art. It forms the first layer of bedrock in all cultures and traditions, religions and families. Food is the living tradition that express a people’s history. But unlike monuments or books, food is alive and food is now! It is perishable, and it is fragile, and it is being created today, by human hands, for you to eat. It is never the same twice.
I’ve always loved food. But it is in understanding that food is a language that I’ve learned to respect and honor it. Sure, food is a granola bar from the gas station or a sandwich in the car. It’s also a sit-down at the holidays, a romantic evening, or an olive branch after a spat. Food is spiritual and food is profound because it is, in the most literal sense, the stuff of life. It feeds not just our bodies but our spirits too. It brings us together, and it is common to all mankind, no matter their differences.
Food is a beautiful language. Its symbols and words are the sweat in the kitchen, the smiles on faces, the time spent lingering with friends, that deep sigh of contentment after a heavy pasta dish with fresh basil from the garden. Food is a sign that we will die one day, yet food is a sign that we will live and fight at least one more day. And if it’s good food, with joy in our hearts! To share in this universal need for food, alongside that strange, deep need for a life beyond mere survival, is the most human of acts.
Food shared is a sign that I care for your strength and health. It’s also a sign that I’m hungry, and you are too, so let’s be a couple of humans together in this moment. Food is what you give to an ailing friend. Food is how to say I love you, without ever saying a word.
Good food is Mozart, or Shakespeare, or Hemingway, depending on the chef. More days than not, though, in the bustle of life, it’s just a paperback or a pop song. But it’s still food. It’s still the stuff of life. It’s still that magic thing that makes it all work. It’s the thing I need, and you need, no matter our idiosyncrasies. In the mundane and elevated alike, there is always something beautiful to experience and share (and taste!) if only we look.