Food. Family. Togetherness.

Updated: Apr 16, 2021

Well, it's Valentine's day, you know the time of the year when we come together with our significant other or those that we love. It's a day filled with love, hearts, and yes, food as well. Being a foodie myself, food is always important; it's the thing that can bring two people, two cultures, and two personalities together.


In a world that seems to focus so much on convivence and fast food, we've lost a portion of that connection the world once had from cooking and eating at the table with those around us.


So, on this Valentine's day, I'll share how food has the unparalleled power to bring us together.



In today's world, dinner parties are on the decline. Fewer and fewer people want to entertain at their house, and I don't blame them. You've got to buy all the groceries, clean the house, cook the food, set the table, then clean up after your guests… it's a lot of work. To me, though, all of this work is totally worth it. Forget the fast food you pick up in your car and eat it on your way to wherever; I want to be surrounded by my friends and family eating good food and becoming closer to them.


With my family spread out across the country, it's often difficult to gather everyone in one place. But when we do, it's always around food. We talk, laugh, and catch up together. This is especially true during holidays, especially when I embark on an extensive Christmas dinner. Everyone looks forward to coming and sitting around one long table as a family, being together in one place with fantastic food. It is the event of the year at my house.



There need not be fighting or awkward silence; everyone is gathered around food. With endless topics ranging from what everyone has been up to, everyone wants to learn more about how a particular dish was prepared. It is the food, the complexity of ingredients and techniques. How did you create this? What flavor combinations did you use? Where did you come up with this recipe? Can I have the recipe?


But you don't have to entertain large parties to bring people together. A few months ago, I made a French Silk Pie for one of my good neighbors; she shared a portion of it to one of her friends who gave some to her daughter, who is soon to be married. After just a few bites, her daughter wanted me to cater the desserts for her wedding. Just one pie has the potential for someone to fall in love with food. On a day where love is celebrated, one's wedding, the love of food brings people together.



But the power of food need not be as complex as a pie; when I was younger, my grandfather had a beautiful house with apple trees along the side and raspberry and strawberry bushes. He would often pick me up from daycare, and we would take a look to see if any berries had grown. If they had, we were in luck! We would harvest what was ripe, bring them inside and make smoothies together. We would sit on the front porch and talk with one another while we drank our smoothies and rocked back and forth in the swing. My grandpa and I are very close; this connection with the little things, as simple as a berry, brought him and me closer together.


It was the act of creating these smoothies, the act of putting your time into a meaningful dish. I once worked with an exceptional chef who immigrated from Mexico. He would create something out of nothing, but it was one ingredient that was most important to him. He would often ask people, "what's the most important ingredient?" he would then pound his chest and say "love." Putting your heart into something, thinking of the other person while cooking, is just the beginning.



At that same job, a few of my coworkers were from the Philippines. They knew I loved to cook and try new food, so they would often cook massive amounts of food and bring them to work for me to try. Two cultures, Filipino and American, came together. Two cultures that are different and unique in many ways came together over good food. Food is a representation of one's culture; the most prevalent ingredients differ from country to country, region to region. If you genuinely want to get to know another country, immerse yourself in their food. Talk with them about their traditions around their food, and you'll be surprised by how much you can learn about one's culture.


Cook with those you love; as a reader of this blog, you've probably learned a few tips and tricks here and there. Cook my recipes with someone you love, teach them what I've taught you. Laugh with one another and enjoy the food you've created. There is no need to argue about cooking a particular dish; there are billions of ways to cook with any ingredient. Try something new, experiment, it's the act of spending time with those you love, creating something you can both enjoy that is important.



So, what's the moral of the story here? Food brings people together, from fine dining holiday dinners, a single pie, down to a single berry; food is limitless in power. It has the power to bring those far from us close and those close to us closer. So, this Valentine's day, cook for someone close to you, sit down at a table, and talk to one another. There need not be a five-course dinner before you; there need not be phones out at the table. Enjoy the food before you and become closer to the ones you love.


Cheers,

Chef Olson

“The Flying Chef”






Do you have a story to tell about how food has brought you closer to someone? A story or memory about cooking with those you love? Please comment down below or send me your story at chefolson@thewoodenspoonchefs.com. I’d love to hear how food has impacted you!

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