Dinnertime rolled around the other day and I did not want to stop what I was doing to cook. I would have been just fine that day eating a simple plate of pasta with chopped tomatoes and cheese. In fact, that sounded pretty good.
But I wasn’t the only one who would be eating what I fixed for dinner that night. I have a husband and son who would come in hungry from work. A growing daughter, who had a long day of classes. And a teenage boy, who would be eating dinner later, but would be ravenous after soccer practice. Simple pasta works for some nights, but not for that one. I knew dinner would demand some type of protein to satisfy them.
I didn’t cook for myself that night. I cooked for them.
We get a lot of messages about food in our culture. And we have our own individual likes and preferences. Sometimes these conflict with who we’re really cooking for.
When you keep things simple and familiar for your young son with sensitivities to textures, you’re nurturing him.
When you avoid certain foods for the child who is allergic, you’re caring for her.
When you serve comfort food to your new husband, because that’s what he likes when you’d rather have a spicy curry dish, you’re showing him love.
When you serve plenty of meat with more meals than you’d care to, because you’ve got growing teenage boys who are in the “age of meat”, you’re nourishing them.
Theories and ideals are all well and good. We do want to work to broaden the palates of our children (and picky husbands). We want to introduce new foods and encourage better eating habits. But we balance that with meals that both nourish and let our family know that we love them. That we’re taking care of them.
Who are you cooking for?