Food for thought: what makes a home-cooked meal special?
a.) That sense of a connection – to loved ones or even a personal history
b.) Generational learning handed down in a recipe.
c.) The ritual of a shared meal at a table – breaking bread.
d.) A sticky mixture of all of the above, with a few secret ingredients thrown in.
My answer: d.
Home-cooked meals are what food should be – Mindful, nourishing and relational.
But a home-cooked meal can feel just as special when eaten far from home.
A fragment of memory: We arrived in Tirana, Albania with more luggage than knowledge – dragging a hazy uncertainty about the eastern block. I had heard of Albanian gangs and sex trafficking and not much else. So it was with uneasy feelings that I arrived.
The first thing that happened: a stranger took us for a meal that was cooked “just like his mamma made it”. He ordered for us in Albanian – and lent us the money for the four courses. I will probably never know exactly what we ate that day, and I sadly can’t recall his name. I do and will remember the difference between when I walked into that restaurant and when I walked out. Everything about that city felt different.
Albania is one of my favourite countries in Europe*. I am not sure if I would feel the same way about it if I had not eaten that meal.
Therein lies the magic of a home cooked meal. We chose Albania at random: a pin stuck into a map. The home-cooked meal made me feel at home: that pinpoint became an axis for the globe to spin on. To me, a home is a centre of gravity.
Presently, I am staying in my childhood home. This morning I stood in my pantry. With my eyes still asleep my hand knew exactly were to find the light switch. I cooked breakfast, and ate it sitting on the veranda, watching Jacaranda flowers rain down from the tree – gravity in motion.
1.) Pour almond milk over a handful of oats.
2.) heat in the microwave for a minute
3.) Add Berries and half a teaspoon of coconut oil
4.) Heat for 30 seconds
5.) Eat somewhere cozy.
* We stayed at my all time favourite hostel in Tirana. The restaurant is just down the street. see http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Trip-n-Hostel/Tirana/73338