I made leek and potato soup the other day. It was my day off, and everyone was out, so the house was quiet. It felt wonderful to be all alone in the kitchen. I was meditative as I washed the leeks from the garden and chopped up the thin-skinned potatoes. I added the chicken stock, and the fragrance was beautiful.
I imagined my children coming home, and hearing them exclaim, “Mmmm! What smells so good?” I thought about how I would pour hot soup into thermoses for lunch the next day and revelled in how that would alleviate the perpetual what-will-I-pack-in-their-lunchbox question. The steam felt so good rising up into my face and I happily relaxed into the morning.
Mind you, meal preparation isn’t always this glorious. Usually the kids are hungry long before I have figured out what to cook for supper. Or I realize too late that I forgot to take any meat out of the freezer. Or I fling something on the table that isn’t nearly as nutritious or healthy as I meant it to be because I forgot we had swimming lessons to get to.
So I savour those glorious times when I am alone with the stove and a pile of yummy ingredients. It isn’t just the feel of the peeler in my hand or the satisfying pop of bubbles that break the surface of the soup. It is a moment of creation, an imitative act. God stirred the cosmic soup and whipped up a beautiful world. I am mixing, blending, baking something that has never been mixed or blended or baked before. I am fashioning, forming, crafting something new.
But the work is not completed in the cooking. I need an audience. My act of creation is not finished until someone declares that It Is Good. Or at least eats it without grumbling. Then, at last, I can sit back and bask in the warm glow that comes with loving my family with food.
It may be that feeding the multitudes in my house is too often rushed, what with violin lessons and work schedules and whatnot. Sometimes all we can manage is take out chicken and a few veggies with dip. But on my best days, we eat leek and potato soup and all is right with the universe.