14 Jan Share With Others What Fills Your Heart With Joy
WHEN WE SHARE WHAT WE LOVE WITH OTHERS, we’re planting seeds of joy. It’s part of the gift of being alive to make somebody feel something, be it through the delicious taste of the food we share, or by passing down the expertise honed from years in the kitchen.
This transfer of kitchen prowess does more than give another human being practical life skills. It creates a bond between people that doesn’t stop with just them.
It is joyfully passed from then on like a binding light to all who share in the connection of a quality meal. A skill passed on is a seed to grow, which will one day nourish, entertain, or even change future generations.
I’ve always loved delicious food. Naturally, I’ve desired to learn how to make it. I don’t remember a particular time when a flip switched and I became interested; all I know is I was a kid who loved to eat.
The ways in which food differs from culture to culture and region to region fascinated me as a kid and does even more now. While one can experience these differences in countless restaurants worldwide, it’s the subtleties of cooking at home that is a skillset of its own.
The subtleties of the home cook
A recipe can only teach you so much. Yet the nuances that turn an ordinary dish into the extraordinary come from either trial and error, or the guidance of a kitchen sage.
These nuances may include how long to heat a pan and how to tell if it’s hot before laying down a steak, how freshly chopped herbs can transform a meal, and of course, the importance of cooking pasta al dente. These things come with practice, and hopefully right now, those averse to cooking before have learned a thing or two.
My step-mom taught me how to cook. In my house growing up, the kitchen was the place to lean against the counter, laugh, and enjoy each other’s company around mealtime. My dad was the one who always had slightly withering grapes, apples, and fruit of all kinds out on the kitchen counter.
This instilled in me a love for fruit, the earth’s natural medicine, and our generation’s misunderstood food group (I consider myself a rebel of the war on fruit, as coined by Medical Medium, but that’s another story).
But for the most part, my step-mom did the cooking. She passed down the kitchen subtleties that inspired a life-long love of feeding my body and soul with the best.
Life derives meaning when shared
I fondly recall learning the details of crafting the French omelet and the memory of testing if spaghetti is ready by throwing it against the wall. These are the little things I hope to pass down, just as she did to me from her mother.
As a kid I didn’t necessarily cook for others. I remember the feeling of wanting things for myself — clothes, toys, food — it’s just part of being a kid.
But if we don’t grow out of this mentality, we’ll lead lives not half as fulfilling as those spent striving to share our joys, loves, gifts, and talents with the world.
Life derives meaning when shared, and food is a primary example of this. My step-mom asked my brothers and me what we want to eat when we went back for the holidays because cooking for us like when we were kids makes her infinitely happier than only cooking for her and my dad.
When we told her the pasta was perfection and the steaks were a revelation, I could sense the joy she felt in sharing her natural talent for cooking. That joy could no doubt be tasted in the food.
The tell-tale sign of a family recipe is a piece of paper that’s time-worn and barely legible, that’s dabbed in pasta stains, or perhaps plum-colored from a spill of red wine.
More likely, the paper doesn’t exist. The best family recipes are passed from the sincere words of the teacher to the open ears of the apprentice; they live only in sweet-smelling memories.
While I’m far from a master, I can hold my own in the kitchen and improvise when I have to. Most importantly, I genuinely enjoy cooking. It’s a part of the day that’s mine to get creative without distractions.
I get lost in my favorite music and the symphony of sizzling sounds. It’s a time to have fun and be myself without needing to follow a recipe.
As I get older, I’ve realized how important food can be to creating meaningful relationships, whether I’m a stranger in a foreign place or visiting home for the holidays.
Food transcends language and borders as the natural medicine to heal a worn-out body. Nourishing food represents the character of one’s heart in ways that words often can’t.
To cook for somebody means you care about them.
A feeling of family from across the globe
While in Japan, my friends and I stayed in the Iya Valley on the island of Shikoku with a man named Shino-San. He graciously opens up his cabin to travelers from all over the world. It was the first night of our stay on the island and we could barely communicate through our different languages in this remote part of Japan.
Yet, when he cooked us a traditional meal on an open hearth in the middle of his cabin, our spirits lifted, the laughter rose, and we created a memory I’ll never forget.
I think of Shino-San often and feel I have a friend in an unlikely place. But while I was there, it didn’t feel foreign; it felt like a home, his home, where we were immediately welcomed and put to work chopping wood and cooking the rice over an outdoor flame.
He treated us like a family.
The ancient communal bond of food
Cooking has provided a connection between people for hundreds of thousands of years. The relationship created through food is no different now than when our ancestors huddled around the sway of a dancing flame.
I imagine an ancient dwelling, where the walls were dimly lit by a smoldering fire in the center of the room. Weapons and hides hung alongside dreams portrayed through the world’s first paintings.
The essential elements of what makes a house a home haven’t changed much since then. Our pictures line the walls and what we collect reflects our personalities. Still, it’s food that makes a house a home and brings us together no matter what species we are or what holiday it is.
The varieties of food we eat have changed over the years as we’ve learned what amounts to healthy, long-lasting lives. Yet, what food does to us as people, as a tribe, as a family, hasn’t changed a bit.
It provides us with a feeling of community and a sense of belonging. That is reason enough to call up a friend and invite them over for sous-chef duties.
What will you be remembered for?
To show somebody how to cook means you’ve planted a seed of joy in their life for years to come. When we’re no longer on this earth, we won’t take our clothes, house, or things with us. All people will have are the memories we made.
I want to be known for almost burning the house down as I cooked up an incredible meal for my friends and family. I want to live a story of sharing my joys now, and every day from here on.
Because when my name loses meaning to my great-grandkids, perhaps one day they’ll eat a chocolate chip cookie with a little extra flair and wonder, where on earth could something so pure, so delicious, have come?
And their parent will say, it was your great-grandfather, Vinny. And they’ll look up in remembrance of their childhood and think, ah yes, that guy could cook.