I watched Masterchef yesterday because I wanted to see what they did with their guest, the Dalai Lama. I thought it was a strange mix to have the Dalai Lama on a cooking show but he has made me think about many things in a different light so I was keen to see what happened. One of the judges remarked on his saying: "I sometimes think that the act of bringing food is one of the basic roots of all relationships." It's a quote I had not heard before but how could you not agree with it wholeheartedly.
Many people think of cooking and the serving of food at regular times every day as a chore that is endured rather than enjoyed. I choose to think that the person who decides on what food will be eaten, the person who chooses the food, either at the shop or in the garden, and the person who serves what has been gathered and cooked, is the person who brings the family together every day. That is an significant role to play in any family or group.
A shared meal should be a part of everyone's day. Unfortunately many people eat alone.
When everyday activities, especially in a young family, see children at school and parents at work, a meal that is shared in the evening is not only a symbolic act of drawing the family back into the home again, but is also a valuable way of reconnecting and learning what each person did during the day. This is a time for sharing not only the food but thoughts, plans, worries and solutions. If you have children in the family, this time spent together may give you the feeling that everything is fine, or it may alert you to something you should be concerned about. A couple living together but separated when they're at work, need to know they will sit, relax and share a meal and the day's news later in the day. Still now, Hanno and I sit down at a set table every evening for our meal. When we have people visiting, it generally involves sharing a meal. There is something about sitting at a table that has been prepared with cutlery, glasses, a water jug, and maybe flowers and candles, that tells all who sit there, they're welcomed into this home.
I know it's sometimes tough, especially with a young family, to provide that shared meal day after day. When I was younger and experiencing those busy days, when fatigue took over and all I wanted was to sit down with my feet up, or, better still, sleep in a cosy bed, I thought about the possibility of not having a family to share anything with. Imagine that. That every day you had no one to eat with and share experiences with. That usually brought me back to reality and I felt privileged to cook meals and serve them to my family. It doesn't matter what is served - it can be simple, or full flavoured and hearty, it's the sitting down and sharing that counts. Last night Hanno and I had fruit for dinner, tonight it will be soup. It's not just the food, it's the connection as well; the combination of the two nourish us and let us know we part of something bigger than ourselves.