Love Language

When I was growing up, my mother was the primary cook in our house. But she didn’t just “cook”, she nourished. She also explored. After traveling to Palestine, she began making za’atar from scratch. A pilgrimage to see the Pyramids meant a journey into homemade hummuses and lentil dishes. She fell in love with foreign lands and she shared that love with her family by bringing their foods to our dinner table; with ingredients like curry and cardamom, Greek yogurt, or basmati rice. Sometimes on Sunday, she made crepes with just a squeeze of lemon and sugar. Or sushi. Once, a Muslim woman she befriended cooked us an entire 6 course meal at the breaking of Ramadan. When my mother taught me how to perfect a French chocolate mousse, or make labneh from scratch, she wasn’t just teaching me how to prepare food, she was showing me how to love the entire process. We connected while rolling out pasta with a hand crank or waiting for the flavors to meld in our Soup au Pistou. She was nurturing an appreciation of flavors and the cultures from which they came. Together we savored traditions. When I cook now, it is with this same purpose. It is a love language. I am not just absently throwing food at dinner plates. I am creating something with the goal of nourishing those I love most in my life. I am putting my heart into that pie or that bean burger. Like art, how it is received may be subjective. You may love it while others do not. But it doesn’t change its value. I have created you something that’s only purpose is to fill you up. It is one of the things I do that reminds me of her. Of how she showed us the richness of the world through its food. Of how she loved with her whole heart and she did this in so many small and uniquely precious ways. I like to think I cook the way she did; with passion and joy, and a desire to explore. To not only put something delicious and nourishing onto the table, but also, out into the world.

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