by Pamela Fernandes
I remember Maya Angelou’s words, “Eating is so intimate. It’s very sensual. When you invite someone to sit at your table and you want to cook for them, you’re inviting a person into your life.” As we celebrate Valentine’s Month and all things love, I can’t help but think about all the little ways food enhances our love. If you consider your own love stories, I’m sure you’re mind would go back to those coffee dates, dinners— casual fare or expensive three-course meals, chocolates, wine, and cake. Even the occasions we celebrate to mark our love, engagements, weddings, and anniversaries, all include food. We say “I love you” through the food we share and the meals we make for the people we deeply care about. There’s an intimacy to sharing food.
What To Cook?
Recall when you had your significant other come over to your place for the first time. You must have agonized over what to serve. What must be their taste? Or what about that first date? I’d bet money that you spent an hour or so considering which restaurant and the cuisine that they would enjoy. Why? Because food conveys our love. Food is an expression of the deepest feelings in our hearts. And so, there are aphrodisiacs and foods that keep the romance alive, all in the hope that the spark we feel with another person is kindled and reciprocated in them.
The movie Chocolat based on the novel by Joanne Harris demonstrates just that. Food and romance are two of the most basic pleasures in life. And with them intertwined, we satisfy the most basic needs of another. Food also forms a major part of our lives. One of the most important activities we’ll share with a lover is dining with them, as often as daily. Our dining companion is going to be someone who knows how to woo us with food. The people we do select to be our potential mates or lovers tend to be the people who make an amazing entrance, they order with elan, eat with gusto and make scintillating conversation that we can’t get enough of. How could we ignore the person who notices us cringe at our horribly mixed cocktail and orders a fine wine instead? How do we walk away from the woman who bakes a delicious chocolate cake that makes you go back for seconds? You don’t. And pair that with a conversation that has you reeling or enthralled. A lover with stories to tell. Those are the ones we keep. The ones we keep dating and inviting until finally, we realize we want them to talk to us forever, every day for the rest of our lives.
A Taste Of Ourselves
Food is also a revelation of ourselves. Since what we eat is a reflection of our personalities, we show our lovers who we are through the food we cook or eat. In my latest romance, IN OTHER WORDS, my main protagonist is a chef. He cooks foods close to his heart; foods that remind him of the happy part of his childhood. Lobster bisque and clam chowder, classic Maine food that formed his past and shaped his future. He takes out the Trish on a date to an Upta Camp and shows her Maine through the food and drink; seafood and Moxie.
When someone cooks their grandmothers’ turkey recipe for Thanksgiving or takes you out to their favorite hang out for a burger, they’re inviting you to look at who they are. They’re telling you, “Hey, this is me.”
Our food reflects us. In his famous book, In Search Of Lost Time, Proust recalls how the taste of tea mixed with a madeleine transported him back to that time in Combray when he visited his aunt and she’d dip the biscuit in her tisane and give it to him. He says of that memory, “And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory – this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence.” The memory of that biscuit filled him with love, that sweet magic ingredient that makes life worth living.
Celebrate With Food
Therefore, this year, if you’re tempted to skimp on the chocolates or just hand over a bouquet of flowers, think again. Why not tell someone how you feel through food? Go out to dinner, cook something special or splurge on the wine. The food is a part of you, a part of the promise of your relationship and it is you expressing yourself and your love.
It invokes memories and forges new ones. It allows you to let other people see you and your intentions towards them. And it’s so much more. As Alan D Wolfelt said, “Food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate.” It’s not the taste of food but quite spectacularly the taste of love.
I leave you with an Irish blessing;
May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life’s passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours!
Happy Hearts day!