Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Filling the Gap: Food

“Don't worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.” -- Robert Fulghum

Oh, this worries me! I am so not perfect. There are so many issues I struggle with that I wish my daughter could avoid somehow.

So I’m starting a new series of letters to fill the gap. Things I want my two-year-old to know that she won’t pick up by watching me…

And in honor of Scribbit’s June Write Away contest, we’re starting on the topic of FOOD.

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Dear Esmé,

FOOD is not a four-letter word. It may make all my clothes shrink, but it is not in itself evil.

And that maxim, “Eat to live, don’t live to eat”? It goes only so far. There is more to life than food, but food can add a lot to life. The flavors, textures, smells…

I’m an all-or-nothing person when it comes to food. I've been that way since I was about 11. The weight is either coming on or going off. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There is a happy medium, though I haven’t found it yet.

My first memories are of food. Green guavas, ripe jackfruit, and egg curry in Bangladesh.

Food transports me in time.

  • Mulberries, rainbow sherbet, and corn dogs (and sunshine): summer camp.
  • Alfalfa sprouts (and imagination): Swiss Family Robinson.
  • Hot chocolate and oranges (and anticipation): Christmas morning.
  • Lentil soup and cinnamon rolls (and candlelight): Friday nights.
  • Fried potatoes (and extra place settings): Lunch after church.
  • Biscuits and gravy (and bleary-eyed dorm students): High school cafeteria on Friday mornings.

Food transports me in space.

  • Dahl (and traffic pandemonium): India
  • Smelly cheese (and lush green meadows): Switzerland
  • Potjiekos (and cooking fires): South Africa
  • Bread and chips (and balmy nights): Malawi
  • Habaneras (and blistering hands): Belize

Food and family go together. Food, place, and time are the main topics of discussion when we plan a family event. Our spouses complain that we don’t get to do anything at our reunions because we’re either eating or preparing the next meal. But we're together!

Food conveys hospitality. When you have enough food on hand to feed your guest for the next decade, he is sure to feel welcome.

Food is humbling. When your host offers you lukewarm tea and biscuits as you sit on the only chair in his hut, surrounded by his large family, you’ll feel a connection unlike any other. And you'll feel blessed.

There is something magical about sipping cinnamon hot chocolate while watching the sunrise. Sitting down as a family to a colorful, hearty plate of food. Snitching a too-hot cookie from the pan. Drinking ice-cold lemonade after a jog. Stealing ripe juicy berries while picking in the patch.

Food is meant to be savored and enjoyed. It’s not simply a tool to maintain health.

Esmé, as I watch your love affair with fudgsicles and ketchup, I see you’ve got this figured out. You eat what you love. When you’ve had enough, you walk away. Or dance, or tiptoe.

I’m scared to death of messing things up with my example.

Live, laugh, and love, even when it comes to food. Enjoy the variety God has gifted you with. And I’ll try harder to join you.

Love,

Mommy

25 comments:

Alicia said...

I know..I love sipping my hot cup of coffee first thing in the morning!

CristyLynn said...

What a beautiful, loving letter! Thanks for sharing with the rest of us as well.

Randy, Ally, and Wes said...

What a beautiful letter. It speaks to my own troubled experiences with food, as well as my fears of passing that on if I ever have a daughter. Thank you for sharing.

sheila said...

LOVE IT!

Brooke said...

i know exactly what you mean. between her mommy's body issues and mine, my poor little niece doesn't stand a chance!!

Prasti said...

beautifully written. i absolutely agree w/ you: food is meant to be savored and enjoyed...w/ family, friends, by yourself. and it can certainly trigger some wonderful memories :)

Kori said...

This strikes close to home for me, with all of my varying food issues over the years. Let's hope all our kids simply listen to their bodies and eat what they love, accept it as the gift it is, along with all it symbolizes, and love their bodies no matter what. Beautifully written.

shopannies said...

coffee is always my first food in the morning

ShEiLa said...

What a beautiful letter all about food to Miss Esme.

So very true. Certain foods bring memories of certain times in my life... wonderful memories.

I could say ditto to some of these statements... but as far as your expertise and experience. You have me beat hands down. Amazing foods you have experienced.

ToOdLeS.

Marie Reed said...

This is a heartwarming letter filled with such savory memories and impressions! Bravo!

Rachel@just another day in paradise said...

wow. I have to tell you that quote scares me to death, but knowing that others find it intimidating helps me feel more capable. LOVE the letter. I wish I could get the food message. . .maybe someday.

A said...

What delicious food memories! Nice topic, too.

Scribbit said...

I completely agree--savor it and enjoy. And that image of the cinnamon hot chocolate with the sun rise is perfect.

Kelly said...

That quote worries me too. That is a beautiful letter to your duaghter. I hope that my kids aren't as picky as my husband and I are

Madeline said...

Your food memories were fun to read. I'm a food junkie. Seriously, I love food. It has such a power that is so beautiful.

Baba said...

Fabulous post! I love food and I never worry about my weight. But that may be because I am older and no longer gaining.

Muthering Heights and Other Senseless Sensibility said...

That's a nice letter. I'm also an all or nothing person when it comes to feed, LOL!

Nap Warden said...

That quote scares me:O I try so hard to lead by example...constantly falling short:P

All Rileyed Up said...

Great thoughts on food! I have so many fond memories of food, believe in eating healthy food, but also like the occasional food for the sake of its excellent taste; yet, I still have that unfortunate habit that I picked up in college of over and/or undereating the wrong foods for emotional support and well, I definitely don't want my kids picking up that habit...

Sarah said...

Oh what a poetic appreciation for food. Beautiful. Kraft Dinner and pajamas reminds me of late night chats with my sister.

Annette said...

Beautiful. Needed.

I have journals I write to both of my children in...I don't want to not remember when they ask what their birth or first year was like.

We have a lot in common!

dani said...

food, unfortunately, is a four-letter word for me... did i say, "unfortunately"??? i hope it never will be for you, esme:)
much love,
aunt dani xxx

Tooj said...

I LOVE how you describe what food can do...be humbling, be hospitable, family and food together....very nice list. Happy Friday.

anymommy said...

That first quote gets me right in the heart. I love your thoughts on food for your little one. So true.

Mary@notbefore7 said...

What a great idea to share your thoughts. I love it!