Food Love

The realization came while preparing a Thai curry chicken dish: I love my knives. I hold my knives in such high regard that I name them. Because it came from Japan, my cleaver is “Aiko.” From taking college Japanese (sixteen years ago), I have a vague feeling that “ai” means love, and “ko” is a diminutive suffix for a female. Hence, “Aiko” (I think) is an endearing term meaning something like “little love.” Oh, yes. I love my knives.

Back to the Thai dinner. I bash the skin off garlic, clove after clove, the way my older sisters taught me when I was a girl. The heel of my hand comes down on the flat side of my Henckels 8″ chef’s knife (yet unnamed; I never learned German) which in turn rests over a garlic clove. If the hand motion is swift and the garlic with its convex side up, like a rainbow, the skin will come off easily with minimal bruising to the “meat.” I remove the cores, for (I once read in a breastfeeding how-to book) the core—the part that sprouts when garlic gets old—is what causes digestive problems. I quadruple the cookbook’s prescribed amount.

Though the recipe doesn’t call for water chestnuts, I add them. (All my boys love water chestnuts.) For dessert: oatmeal raisin cookies—extra raisins, for my husband who calls them “the heavenly fruit” and nearly panics when we run out.

Cooking, baking, peeling, chopping, stir-frying—these are my acts of love. New family at church? Let’s have them over! Neighbor feels stressed? I’ll bring her cinnamon-banana bread! Friends are having trouble? Give them something to eat!

I love my knives because they help me to love. I love people with food.

As usual, I was lying belly-down on the living room carpet. The double-spaced, wide-margin manuscript pages of Genesis 45 were before me, and the words grabbed my attention:

So they went up out of Egypt and came to the land of Canaan to their father Jacob. And they told him, “Joseph is still alive, and he is ruler over all the land of Egypt.”

And his heart became numb, for he did not believe them. (Genesis 45:25-26)

Of course not. Why should Jacob believe them? Joseph is dead to him—has been dead all this time.

But when they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. And Israel said, “It is enough; Joseph my son is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.” (Genesis 45:27-28)

This time, he believed them! What made the difference? What brought Jacob from numb-hearted disbelief, to believing—knowing—that Joseph was indeed alive and ruler of Egypt?

But when they told him all the words of Joseph… It was the details of the story, the very words and phrases Joseph spoke. And, what else? When he saw the wagons… What was in the wagons? Joseph commanded their filling. What did they contain?

Joseph gave them wagons, according to the command of Pharaoh, and gave them provisions for the journey . . . To his father he sent as follows: ten donkeys loaded with the good things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain, bread, and provision for his father on the journey… (Genesis 45:21,23)

The food! Joseph loved his father with food, and the generously filled wagons caused Jacob to believe, My son lives! I have always said I love people with food, and I can say that Joseph did, too.

If I take off my chef’s hat and apron and move myself from the kitchen to the table, the love is there just as strong. Not only do I love people with food, I also feel loved when people feed me. Food must be one of my “love languages.”

God uses scenes and scenarios from people’s daily lives to reveal His character. Parables help me know Him better. As I write these words I realize that, because I love to cook and feed others, He uses this part of me as a parable. I know what it feels like to love others from the kitchen, and I consider God’s love. Does He love me?

I have never before referred to God as a Master Chef, but it’s true. He feeds me with the best delicacies and richest, most nourishing fare. This is God’s culinary masterpiece: His Word.

How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!

(Psalm 119:103)

He prepared His Word, a full menu exactly as it should be, and He prepared it for me because He loves me. On this I will feed, and it is a feast!

(Linking with both The High Calling book club and Bonnie Gray this week.)



10 thoughts on “Food Love

  1. Now, please just tell me…what were you doing up at 3:30, young lady?

    I read these words and I feel blessed that I have been the recipient of some of this Monica-love. And thank you, friend, for thinking of me. I am doing ok. It really is the big stuff I’ve been wrestling with this week. The way Jennifer loved in her short life has shamed me. I’ve been trying to do better. I don’t want to lose this seeing.

    Love to you.

  2. I think food is such an expression of love. Want to make someone feel cared for? Feed them. Perhaps that’s why I need to lose weight—I’m well loved! :)

  3. Ah yes! And Pharoah promises that they will eat the “fat of the land!”
    The food analogies throughout Scritpure are absolutely amazing. My favorite…
    “Because your steadfast love is better than life,
    my lips will praise you.
    So I will bless you as long as I live;
    in your name I wil lift up my hands.
    My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
    and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips…”
    Ps 63:3-5

    That’s the kind of “fat and rich” I long for… soul food that’s calorie free and non-weight-gaining! :)

    I just taught this part of the Joseph story last week at our Women’s Bible study. Sooo rich!


  4. I love it when people love me with food. :)

    Food shows up in the bible often. The fish and loaves. The food the disciples shared with Jesus on the road to Emmaus. The Last Supper – the Passover meal. And God promises us that we will feast with Him around His table one day. Sounds as if you are in good company!

  5. Perhaps cooking IS a love language :) I am not the biggest fan of cooking (guess it isn’t MY love language), though I am a big fan of the receiving of cooking. BUT there is no better food than food prepared by someone with love :)

  6. Wow, you feed me with these words. I never thought of naming my knives. Will reconsider my actions.

    I am going to re-read this! Okay I am being piggy and going back for seconds, maybe even thirds!

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