Does any cold remedy compare to mum’s homemade chicken soup? There’s a reason for that, and it’s called love. Eating nourishes the body, but cooking for those we love feeds the soul.
Any chow magically becomes soul food when the person in the kitchen flies into a frenzy to whip up a favorite dish for someone they hold dear. My hubby can’t flip an omelet to save his life, but when he serves me up a hot mess of eggs and cheese as breakfast in bed, you won’t find me bemoaning his lack of plating skills.
Anyone who has ever felt homesick knows that the taste of good, old-fashioned homestyle cooking beats anything even the fanciest restaurants serve up.
Why Nothing Beats the Taste of Home
Missing mama’s cooking is far from a unique American first-world problem. Peeps all over the globe find one of the things they miss the most when they migrate to a new locale is the food they once enjoyed.
The reasons remain immaterial. Even those in urban areas with ample ethnic markets available attest that nothing tastes quite like the flavors they grew up loving.
Nutritionists and celebrity weight-loss gurus adore referring to food as nothing more than an array of phytochemicals on a plate designed to keep our physical bodies moving smoothly.
However well-intended such people may be, I call BS on that whole idea. Want to know the primary reason diets don’t work for most people over the long term?
What we put in our mouths doesn’t only provide us with vitamins, protein, and other nutrients; it also connects us with the ever-turning circle of life all mortal creatures inhabit.
Growing up in Jersey, nothing beat driving up the coast in the summer to catch a Red Sox game at Fenway and gorge on whole lobsters that cost less than most casual chain restaurants charge for a burger and fries. Even when driving to locations only a few hours away, regional food differences highlight the flavor of the communities that enjoy them. Breaking open a soft-shell crab with a mallet down Maryland way brought equal joy to my taste buds.
Although my grandmother passed on several years back, the taste of her homemade galumpkis will live on in my memory and kitchen until the day I give my spatula to one of my daughters. Before arthritis made her hands a misery, the way she could decorate a birthday cake would put contestants on TV bake-offs to shame.
Food unites generations in ways genealogy websites can only dream about. Festivals celebrate cultural heritage feature regional dishes for good reason — everyone craves a taste of home, even when they’ve never visited their nation of origin. I may or may not ever make it to Kazimierz Dolny, Poland, but that doesn’t keep me from enjoying a bowl of haluski now and then.
Cooking Soothes the Weary Soul
What better way to tell someone you love them by nourishing the body that carries their soul during their life journey? Throughout the ages, people have celebrated their oneness through cuisine reminding them of their roots.
Cooking permits even those not handy with a paintbrush or pencil to create a work of art. Because diners can only enjoy each meal once, each gustatory event presents a tabula rasa on which the chef can plate the fruits of their imagination.
Our hectic modern lifestyles risk making the home-cooked meal a thing of the past. The loss of this requisite art form causes many to despair. However, old-fashioned home cooking may pave the way out of obesity and various other health ailments. Eating in also proves more cost-effective over the long haul than grabbing and going.
Additionally, home-cooked meals may curtail global warming and environmental catastrophe. Hitting the drive-thru means leaving car engines idling and emitting toxins into the atmosphere. Even dining out means expending fuel in many cases. Plus, the cost of tipping servers and paying for serious upcharges on that glass of chardonnay can really add up.
At a time when obesity runs rampant in many developed nations, eating at home can help some folks win the battle of the bulge. Those dining at restaurants may unwittingly expose themselves to environmental toxins unless the facility uses organic products. Most home-cooked meals also contain far fewer calories than the oversized offerings at many popular chains.
Returning to the Kitchen
I’ll be blunt: One major factor that prevented me from cooking at home in my earlier 20s was the impression that preparing meals fell into the realm of women’s work. Never mind that many celebrity chefs rocked XY chromosomes instead of a neat duplicate.
When it came down to day-to-day family nourishment, sweating away in the kitchen seemed to remain the purview of the gynecological set, even when they worked as many hours outside the home as their male counterparts.
Driving the final nail into the coffin of this antiquated idea allowed me the freedom to prepare foods my hubby and children loved while seeing it as an act of compassion, not an obligation borne out of my lady bits. The fact that my husband rarely hesitates to tackle the chores I despise, such as washing dishes, made me realize how much joy I took in prepping meals for those I care for most.
Food Is Love
As much as I enjoy the convenience of take-out, most times, I prefer cooking at home. Plus, I can feed my entire family for roughly the cost of one meal at popular eatery chains.
Filling hungry bellies proves easy; creating dishes your kids will crave long into adulthood requires one part creativity and nine parts affection. When it comes to the nourishment our souls seek most, nothing beats a home-cooked meal.