Food and cooking has been a major part of my life since I can remember. When I was a little kid my family would get together every weekend. No matter how many people were there, our table always seemed to have just enough room.
Mama, that was my great grandmother, always had a pot of spaghetti sauce going. whenever anyone walked by the stove they would tear off a piece of bread and dunk it in the sauce. Naturally, mama would yell at them, in Italian of course, and everyone would laugh. She liked to pretend that she couldn't speak English.
When everything was ready we would
gather around the table and fill our plates with pasta, meatballs,
sausage, fried zucchini, and bread. Then we would eat!
Everyone at the table would be stuffing their mouths and talking simultaneously, about everything and everyone, 'did you hear about so and so' and the whole house would fill with laughter. We would talk about what we were eating, about how good the meatballs or sausage were and how good the sauce was. We would start talking about what we ate yesterday or the day before, and how good it was. Then we would talk about what we were going to eat tomorrow. It made no difference that we had the same discussion every weekend, the next weekend would be no different.
Mama always put something of herself into the food she made. She truly loved it, and I don't mean eating it, she truly loved food and cooking. For me that is what cooking with love means.
My family, like so many families that immigrated from Italy, was centered around food. I don't think I have a single childhood memory that doesn't involve food in some way. My whole life has been all about cooking and eating, because that's what Italians do.
We lived in an Italian neighborhood. Naturally, most of my friends were Italian. Their families were the same way. Now it seems, all of that is gone. Sure you can find remnants of that period in the larger cities, like NY and LA, but it's not the same as it was when I was a kid. Is it ever?
This is why things like the smell of bread baking in an oven, or making pasta or pot roast have such a strong emotional response for me. They bring back all those memories from my childhood. For me life is all about cooking, and this is what comfort food is all about and what it means to cook with love.
Tags: cooking with love, all about cooking, comfort food, food and cooking