Sharing food a time-honored gift

I love food.  No excuses offered.  No recollection of childhood issues or deprivation of any sort to report.  I simply enjoy just about every sort of food, with the exception of the exotic and wild game. 

Do I show the results of my adoration for eating?  Yes, indeed, I do.  Do I know about nutritional value, caloric intake, the importance of physical activity, and the risks for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and countless other afflictions that sometimes plague those of an unhealthy weight?  Yes, my friends, I do.

As I mature throughout the journey that is my life, I have begun to place great value in the art of cooking and the availability of food enhancement, such as freshness, flavoring, method of preparation and texture.  Allow me to tell you about a certain clam chowder I had the privilege of dining on.  It was without a doubt one of the most stupendous dishes I have sampled and it was prepared by a chef who also happens to be my future husband’s best friend.  

Over the span of two days, I had four bowls of this wondrous creation.  Each spoonful, from the first to the last, contained multiple succulent clams.  In addition to clams, the chowder boasted  perfectly squared potatoes, fresh herbs and spices, and a sweet cream sauce.  Every bite was sensational from beginning to end, with no decrease in flavor.  The clam chowder went beyond the realms of delicious; it was divine.  If I were a professional food critic, which I most certainly am not, I would give this creation the highest rating and beyond.  

I have attempted to accurately list each ingredient in the chowder, but the most important and delectable addition is the thoughtfulness and care in every spoonful.   The chef readily agrees for he believes fervently that food is love.  We plan our gatherings around meals.   A first date usually takes place at a restaurant.  Most of our celebrated holidays include traditional foods that are a vital part of our culture.  The Thanksgiving turkey.  The Christmas ham.  The corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day. The Easter Sunday breakfast eggs.   Saturday night baked beans and red hot dogs.  Poutine. We refer to them as comfort foods, and they are in every sense of the word.  

One of the first and most important events involved in planning a wedding is the menu for the reception dinner.  (I am well aware of this as I plan my own wedding.)  We select the caterer carefully, making sure to include foods that are appealing to not only the wedding party but also to the expected guests.  When a loved one passes away, we very often consider offering a luncheon for the gathering after the funeral service as we mourn and also celebrate the life of the deceased. 

Blueberry season is upon us and I am searching for the perfect blueberry pie recipe.  (The blueberry pie filling is a cinch; it is the crust that challenges me.)  New potatoes, string beans, peas, zucchini, squash, turnip, carrots and other fresh vegetables are presently in their prime and we shop at local food stands with great enthusiasm.  Sadly, we will put our barbecue equipment to one side as pumpkins begin to adorn lawns and front steps as we prepare to launch into the holiday season.  January reintroduces us to chicken stews, beef dishes, rich desserts, homemade breads and hot cocoa.  The cycle begins again as food and wardrobes conform to the season.

The man I am marrying is a world traveler, and he believes that we become most familiar with someone by sharing a meal, or more specifically, by breaking bread with another individual; often opening our homes and our hearts as we sit down at the table together.   We put aside our preconceived notions and break down the barriers as we participate in one of the most innocent and natural acts in life — dining in unison.  We are suddenly on the same playing field.  In many ways, food can be a personal bond and a healer of sorts – a pathway to the soul.  Just as the chef who prepared the clam chowder so eloquently states, food is love.  

Please remain safe and let us all continue to be kind to ourselves and to each other.

Belinda Ouellette lives in Caribou with her Goldendoodle, Barney.  You may email her at belindaouellette9@gmail.com.

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