I process pretty much every life event through cooking. If a friend’s grandmother passes away or a fiancé abruptly leaves, within 24 hours I am on her doorstep with a platter full of southern fried chicken or the makings for a deluxe salmon en croute dinner. If not to cheer my friend up, this should at least distract her from her sadness for a few moments.
I also like to feed people in times of great joy; the birth of a baby, the arrival of new neighbours or a big job promotion—I want to celebrate that moment with a fantastic meal.
I have found through the many moves that we have made over the years that, happy, sad or indifferent, most people like to be fed. Not everyone likes to cook (much to my dismay), but most people enjoy eating.
And I love to feed people. I am not so good at providing comforting or inspirational words, so I have learned to focus more on what I know I can do to help heal a broken heart or revel in a joyful moment—cook.
I have a met a few very nice women here in England. Most are stay-at-home moms. All like to eat. So I invited four of my new friends over for lunch last week. The funny thing is that of the five of us, only one was from England. The others were from Egypt, Ireland, France and me, America.
I decided to make a chicken, olive and preserved lemon tagine. Tagine is actually the name of the cooking vessel used to make the dish. It is a sort of rounded triangular, that is used in Morocco to make something similar to a stew.
The tagine I served was full of fresh, bold flavours. I served it with fluffy basmati rice to soak up all the yummy juices.
As we sat around eating, chatting and laughing one of the moms looked around the table full of non-Brits and said, ‘This isn’t so much a lunch, as it is a UN meeting.’ To which we all cheered and decided that the one thing that all of us had in common was our love of food.