On this Foodie Friday, I am taking a slightly different approach to the topic. While I will be returning with recipes and reviews next time, my musings this week led me to ponder the importance of food beyond mere nutrition.
Most all of us know that food brings people together. The Christian celebration of the bread and the wine is often called “communion.” It is something to share in common. The Sedar meal of the Jewish Passover symbolically calls those sharing it to remember the events of Exodus. In the United States there is a tradition, and nostalgia, related to the legendary “first thanksgiving,” when the English Settlers and Native Americans shared a harvest meal. Food is a social glue.
Foods also have personal significance. Most all of us have that special dish from our childhood. The one that was always at Grandmother’s house, or that you made on the weekend with Mom. Some smells, and tastes transport us to “better days.” A particular flavour of ice cream, or a brand of chocolate or even breakfast cereal can awaken memories.
Add this personal psychological/emotional to the nature of some food stuffs (sugars and fats especially) and we enter into the realm of comfort foods. Be it lasagna, cheese cake, or even Pop Tarts we seek comfort in the filling familiarity.
As those who are familiar with my postings know, I teach Holocaust Studies as part of my portfolio. The power of food can be seen even in this sad subject. here is an account by Holocaust survivor Edith Peer,
“It was bitterly cold, our spirits and bodies broken. We shivered, not only because of lack of proper clothing, but because of our empty stomachs; we were desperately hungry. There was nothing to warm our emaciated bodies after the infamous ‘Appel’ (roll call) twice a day.
So we started to talk about glorious food, food that was served around the family table during better times. I was able to gather some paper and pencil and asked my fellow inmates to write down their recipes in the hope that, if the unbelievable miracle of freedom ever eventuated, I would be able to feed my feeble body with those gourmet dishes.”
The vary thought of food, of the glorious dishes of their freedom, gave hope. Many of the recipes of the cookery book they produced were exaggerated, and with proportions which are implausible. They however, were hopeful expressions brought about by the “healing” power of food.
Food unites, food comfort, food gives hope. Let’s rejoice in the power of food.