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!
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!