Love and Food

Someone in our household has come down with a summer cold. As anyone who has ever suffered such a sickness can tell you, it’s horrible. It’s not horrible in the “oh my God, we’re all going to die” kind of way, at least to those of us lucky enough to not catch a summer cold might think. Rather, it’s horrible in the “uncomfortable, unfortunate, and ill-timed” perspective.

Ill-timed is key here, because your body is telling you to drink lots of fluids and that broth is the nectar of the Gods. But it’s mid August, a time of the year when the bounty of the farm is starting to come in, and soup is something that most people don’t start thinking about for two to three more months.

But a cold is a cold, and it’s victim must be treated with care and compassion. So this weekend, we made Chicken and Dumplings on Saturday, and Sunday was the time for Savory Beef Stew.

Truth be told, these recipes work really well on the weekends when there are many chores to do. Stick the meat, bones and all, into the stock. Add a few herbs and/or spices. Set the temperature to simmer and go about your day. Let the meat cook slowly and let the flavors (and fat) intermingle into what is now a flavorful broth. About an hour before serving, add your potatoes and carrots and voila! Soup for the sickened. If adding dumplings instead of potatoes, add them 10 minutes before serving instead of 60.

But this post isn’t about the making of food. It’s really about how important food is when a loved one is sick. It’s clearly important to the one who is ill, as they need the comfort and nutrients that the food provides. But it’s also important to the person making the food for the one who is ill, as it provides them with a task to keep their mind off of their partner’s illness, and allows them to demonstrate their care and love to those who eat the food.

Overly romantic? Maybe. But the reason that food is looked upon as the “great connector” is that it provides the tools for us to tell others that we care enough for them that not only do we want to nourish them and keep them in good health, but we want to do it in a way that provides a modicum of pleasure as well. It’s a message that Hallmark cards could never replicate.