It’s the holidays and, as is prone to happen with all the festivities of the season, my thoughts turn naturally to food. In the past, I’ve thought fondly about all the different trips to foreign countries, the various people I’ve met, and activities I’ve engaged in along the way, but I never truly thought about those trips from a culinary standpoint, other than to rate my top ten favorite meals… until this week.
Here’s the thing, I’ve had Borscht in Starry Oskol, Russia; Chicken Kiev in Kiev, Ukraine; Argentine pizza and beef in Buenos Aires; Mexican tortas made with fresh limes and avocados straight from our host’s trees in Oaxaca, Mexico; game foul from Scotland in London; Dulce de Leche in Escossa, Argentina; fresh homemade bleu cheese dug out of the ground and escargot in France, Swiss cheese soufflé in Burgenstock, Switzerland; Souvlaki and Tzatziki in Athens, Greece; Empanadas in Chile; Caribbean rotis in Barbados, chocolate straight from the trees in Grenada; and of course I ate my weight in pizza and pasta in Italy. That’s just the start. I could go on for a long time.
What’s so special about most of these experiences, however, is the amount of love people poured into the cooking process and how I could actually taste it. I know some people will think I’m crazy when I say this, but there is an incredible feeling that washes over me when I partake of such a delight.
For instance, on Thursday, I came home to the most delectable surprise I’ve ever experienced. My husband had prepared a stellar filet of beef. I know, it sounds fairly normal, but he didn’t stop there. He roasted garlic and mixed it into goat cheese to make a spread. Then, he scooped the goat cheese mixture on top of the filet, stuck a fresh sprig of rosemary into it and torched the herb. As soon as the rosemary started burning and smoking, he inverted a glass bowl over the whole dish, allowing the rosemary smoke to permeate both the cheese mixture and the filet. He also flattened several softly cooked red potatoes onto a baking sheet, drizzled them with herbs and olive oil and roasted them.
I don’t know about you, but I become utterly entranced watching people work in their art or craft. That’s how I became watching Ted make this meal. I asked him how he came up with the recipe and he said it came to him in a dream. In the end, the dish was absolutely exquisite. Not only was it one of the BEST MEALS I’VE EVER HAD, I got to watch him as he infused his love for me into the preparation.
And as I sat next to him eating his work of art, these are the feelings that filled me with each bite:
- I felt humbled that someone would think so much of me to pour heart, soul, and effort into feeding me.
- I felt warm and loved, cradled, and cared for.
- Joy bubbled over so that each taste brought a smile to my face.
- And I felt good about myself because my husband thought me worth the time and effort to create this masterpiece for me.
It dawned on me that not only was his gift love in action, I was experiencing the gift of pure love. You all already know how much I like to wax rhapsodic about sharing love with others, demonstrating it to those around you, and being the love of Christ to strangers and loved ones alike. But seldom have I spoken about being the recipient of such grand love. Most of us think we’re pretty good at accepting love. But I would say, it’s one thing to know that someone loves you, it’s quite another to allow it to fill your innermost being. That requires a conscious choice to savor the feeling. You have to taste it as though it were your last meal. You have to let it fill your heart, soul, mind, and body.
That’s not something that’s easy to do in this hustle and bustle life, but oh, dear God, how wonderful it feels when we stop to notice that somebody loves us that much. Sometimes we can take people for granted, especially those we know so well. We can tell each other we love each other in passing, but how often do we let that sink in and bask in the pure ecstasy of knowing that somebody loves us?
This is the season of both giving and receiving. It’s a time not only to enjoy the sheer joy of giving a present to someone, it’s also a time to stop and truly appreciate the love someone has shown us in the gift he/she gives to us, no matter how small, awkward, strange, or flat (I just spent hours in the kitchen making cookies for gifts that all went completely flat in the oven) that gift might be. The expression of love is a priceless gift to give, it is also a precious gift to receive. Soak it in! Give love, live loved! Accept the love you are given!