There is something really special about food.
It brings people together.
I think my happiest memories with my family or my beloved friends feature food somehow. There is something deeply comforting and heart-warming about getting together to share a meal. Whenever I’d stay over at Gracie’s, her loud, shouty, expressive Italian family would make me smile. They would make these incredibly grand hand gestures and shout at each other throughout the whole meal, but through it all and in it all was love.
In my own family; whenever I think of my Dad, I think of the times we’ve laughed together over a ‘late night pie’. Whenever I visit Mom, she wants to feed me. It doesn’t matter what time of day it is – it could be 2:00am in the morning…Mom will offer food of some kind. “Want some beef?” I can hear her wonderful voice in my head right now with that memory.
I’ve piled on 30 kilos that I really don’t need – but no matter how BIG I am, Mom always wants to feed me; “Try something!” she’ll entice with a big smile on her beautiful face “Just try one bite!”
I’ve had such happy moments sitting on paint cans and laughing with the Ambroses while Lyn takes on yet another ‘rescue operation’ of an old house or furniture or an old bookshelf she sees something special in that was left on the side of the road. Mrs Ambrose likes to wear these ‘shin pads’ so she can paint along floor skirtings and they make me laugh. This wonderful, kind, beautiful person who has become a second Mom to me in old tatty clothing with worn grey shin pads on a big smile that has lit up so much of my life. I have loved any times over meals with the Ambroses…usually a seafood-type meal because Pete loves to fish. Pete has always done the cooking while Lyn fusses over me and Troy rolls his eyes and winks at me.
I love my adopted family so much.
Even families that are ‘thrust’ upon you and come with their own set of difficulties and challenges (The Thomas’) come with their joyful moments. I remember Alun and I wanted the Thomas’ to try our favourite fish and chips from the store 10 minutes walk up the hill from our home. Al and I went and got our order and walked home hand-in-hand with big, excited, child-like smiles on our faces. We got in from the cold and came into the living room. Suddenly, everyone was moving. Mr Thomas was handing out plates and cutlery, Mrs Thomas was tearing everyone a strip of paper towel, everyone was working together to move things off the living room table and couches were being pushed together with big grins. We opened up the newspaper ‘packing’ and revealed the wonderful bounty in the middle of the coffee table…and everyone – everyone was happy. Lots of “oohs” and “ahh”s from the Thomas’ and a grateful nod from Mr Thomas to his son which touched my heart. It was so nice sitting around the table together. No grudges, no judgement…just oily smiles and the crunching of well cooked golden chips and lightly battered salty fish.
I loved meals at the Buchnor Household in the UK. Dalton spends hours in the kitchen and prepares these amazing Jamaican-inspired meals. Seeing Pauline and the beauty and warmth she radiates so naturally sitting at the table lovingly encouraging everyone to “Eat! go for it!”. Sitting with Bec who is one of the most amazing young ladies I’ve ever met – warm, friendly, talented and lovingly generous just like her parents. Dalton would bring out platter after platter of amazing food…I liked his chicken best…and I loved the rice he always made – warm and soft with red beans through it – like a little red surprise in every mouthful. I loved the nature of ‘togetherness’ and ‘family’ around the Buchnor table. Everyone spoke kindly and lovingly to each other. I can hear Dalton’s deep, gentle voice encouraging his children, praising his wife and glorifying God…all with ease – as if it was as easy as breathing. The Buchnors shine love in their beings, their words…and their meals. What a great honour to be included in such a wonderful family’s meal time.
Before I left for Australia, the wonderful Armstrong’s had me over for Sue’s INCREDIBLE Chocolate cake. I dont know what Sue puts in it…but MY GOD is it amazing. It’s silky and smooth, chocolate-y, marvellous and really, really moist. My mouth’s watering just writing about it. I don’t know if I’d ever been invited over to the Armstrong’s house before – well, not for longer than it took to pick the lovely Brenna up, anyway 🙂 but this time, I got an personal invite from Sue. Being invited over by someone I look up to, adore and fear in equal measure meant the world to me. Sue is as Incredible as her chocolate cake. She is a tower of strength and logic. I miss her, Brenna, Sarah and my beloved James so much. It was so great to sit is Sue’s kitchen and talk over tea and cake. It felt like the wonder that England is known for – solving wars, pronouncing love, good manners, learning and growing in families and getting the best gossip – all before your ‘brew’ got too cool. I love the image in my mind of Sue’s kind face and Brenna’s beautiful frame curled up on a bar stool as she scrunches her cute nose and giggles with me about something Sue’s just said.
I miss them so much.
Sometimes food is how wonderful friendships are formed. I remember the first time I really met Joey’s Mom was when she was either dropping off Joey’s birthday cake to me or picking up a plate from the cake Joey had brought over. In the past, we’d only waved hello or goodbye to each other as Joey T got picked up or dropped off but this time, it was just the two of us. Mrs Thomas has Joey’s kind eyes, Beth’s cheeky twinkle and a heart of absolute gold. I spent yesterday reading all our email exchanges and at the end of it had to just thank God for such a beautiful Lady with such a wonderful Momma’s heart in my life.
As well as coming over so I could sleep while she watched over me, Ginny also came to visit to make Columbian snacks – little pastries that she fried. They puffed out and tasted like heaven – especially with the addition of butter, jam or honey. I love Ginny’s heart for God and the generous way she loves with all her heart – holding nothing back but loving with abandon – taking all the risks to share who she is at all times. What an incredible young lady of God. I’m so blessed to be able to call her my friend.
I miss sitting and eating Cat’s wonderous peanut cookies. I love Cat’s heart, her gentle spirit, her crazy sense of humour (just like mine! Woo!) and Cat’s level-headed, laid back, kind, incredible wisdom. All would be dispensed over gossip, laughter, prayer – and the joyful munching of peanut cookies. I’ve tried to replicate such amazing goodies over here in Australia but I think peanut cookies only work when they are made by Cat. I cant wait for the one day we’ll share a hot kettle of tea and lots of Cat’s amazing cookies and creative cakes. I love my darling friend and I’m so thankful we grew closer over plates of cookies.
Tesco’s own version of Peanut cookies also brought Becci, Stacey and I closer to each other. Aware that I didnt have long left in England, I wanted to spend as much time as I could with my beloved UK youthies. It was both a heartache and a freedom having the house to myself when Jon moved out. I felt so lonely and ashamed at night, but the daylight brought something so wonderful, so free-ing and so lovely that I would have traded a million lonely nights for the days I got when I would leave the front door wide open, put a few cookies out on a plate…and wait to see what happened 🙂
Bec and Stacey, my beloved Marc, Tom, amazing Joey T, Adam & Sean, Phil, Kieran…any manner and number of youth would appear. I could hear them arriving and would smile knowing that any time soon, the house would be in a whirlwind of laughter and conversation – and mess…and I loved every bit of it. My favourite times were in the living room with Becci and Stacey – just laughing, singing, trading embarrassing stories and generally being daggy girls. They’re some of my favourite moments. There is something really special about getting crumbs all over your face with the people you love most. I think I learnt more about Becci and Stacey when it was just the 3 of us…and one packet of tempting peanut biscuits…home together for hours than I did in the crowded youth hall in Church.
I think Communion in Church – the coming together to share a tiny meal – shows that where families and food are – there God is, too. So many Bible stories happened around food. Blows my mind thinking that such an ‘ordinary’ thing led to so many extraordinary miracles.