Week 2 in the Series.. I Love You, Eat This
When I think back to the roots of how we learn to love one another through food, it can really be honed in on one specific day and time for all of us. Our birthday. When we are born, we desire simple things, one of which is food.
We equate being loved by the attachment we feel during our meals. And our parents show us love by feeding us when we are hungry and responding to our cues. This rhythm continues as we grow. However, the feeding ritual becomes much more complicated as we begin to individuate and exercise our own personalities and limits through the toddler and preschool years. Our parents had to embrace these years-much like you may do with your own children now, with sensitivity and firm boundaries.
Unfortunately, this is the part that can get all wonky. If our parents didn’t have the emotional support and appropriate coping skills for them to deal with having children and handle their own lives, then they were not very likely to pass these things onto us. For example, your parents (one or both perhaps) eats when they are tired, bored, lonely, and frustrated. When they saw you tired, lonely, bored, or frustrated they fed you because that is what made them feel better. That is how they learned to show love from their parents and that is the way they show love to their spouse and friends.
Here is where it can get even more confusing. Showing love through food is socially acceptable. Think most major holidays, birthdays, when someone dies or is ill, when someone has a baby, when someone is going through a rough time for any reason….someone else buys or brings them a nice meal.
Showing that you love someone through food isn’t taboo and can be a lovely and generous gift. However, when it comes to overcoming our own food issues or if our kids are picky-beyond the norm of what can be expected in the toddler years (ie you now have a picky 8 year old) then you may need to question your own behaviors.
Weekly Challenge: In what ways do you show love through food? How do you love yourself, through food?
Zen Recipe Corner:
Since we are talking about food and love language. Here is one of my favorites. (I’m from Louisiana in case I hadn’t mentioned that before!)
Chicken and Sausage Gumbo (recipe from GumboPages.com)
• 1 cup oil
• 1 cup flour
• 2 large onions, chopped
• 2 bell peppers, chopped
• 4 ribs celery, chopped
• 4 – 6 cloves garlic, minced
• 4 quarts chicken stock
• 2 bay leaves
• 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning, or to taste
• 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
• 1 large chicken (young hen preferred), cut into pieces
• 2 pounds andouille or smoked sausage, cut into 1/2″ pieces
• 1 bunch scallions (green onions), tops only, chopped
• 2/3 cup fresh chopped parsley
• Filé powder to taste
Season the chicken with salt, pepper and Creole seasoning and brown quickly. Brown the sausage, pour off fat and reserve meats.
In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil and cook the flour in the oil over medium to high heat (depending on your roux-making skill), stirring constantly, until the roux reaches a dark reddish-brown color, almost the color of coffee or milk chocolate for a Cajun-style roux. If you want to save time, or prefer a more New Orleans-style roux, cook it to a medium, peanut-butter color, over lower heat if you’re nervous about burning it.
Add the vegetables and stir quickly. This cooks the vegetables and also stops the roux from cooking further. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for about 4 minutes.
Add the stock, seasonings, chicken and sausage. Bring to a boil, then cook for about one hour, skimming fat off the top as needed.
Add the chopped scallion tops and parsley, and heat for 5 minutes. Serve over rice in large shallow bowls.
YIELD: About 12 entrée sized servings.