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Friday, December 24, 2010

Food is a Love Language

I just assembled the baked stuffed french toast casserole that I make every year for my son for Christmas breakfast.  I hand whisked the eggs until I could feel just the right consistency.  I put just the right amount of cream cheese tucked into all the little corners of the casserole.  Made sure every little bit of bread had cinnamon, and after the liquid was poured over the bread mixture I placed saran wrap over the top and gently patted and smoothed and pressed to make sure every bit of bread was evenly soaked.

Food is a love language.  At least for me it is, and I speak it fluently.

Carly's French Toast Casserole 12/24/2010.  RIP.

When I am making it for you, ordering it for you, thinking about it for you, I am expressing love - thinking that you are going to love it the same way I would - and showing you that I love you enough to get or make you the very best that I can, hoping you are going to love it, too.

When I am stuffing my own face with it, I think it's another kind of love language, a dialect.  I think I'm trying to GET love from the food.  Comfort me, mashed potatoes.  Hold me, warm baguette.  Love me long time, sesame chicken.  :-)

My earliest memories associate food and love.  Sitting at the table with my dad with a loaf of bread and a jar of jelly wasn't just a snack - it was a shared bonding experience that started with the anticipation "I'll get the bread, you get the knife ho ho ho" Dad would say.  Such excitement was unfolding!  He'd slather one slice with some kind of jam or jelly or preserve, then set it before me.  I'd wait with anticipation.  He'd slather another, set down the knife and hold his slice in both hands.  I'd grab mine the same way.  There were moans and groans of delight.  Why, this was the best stuff since..... oh.  Sliced bread? lol  It was a shared experience of togetherness, bonding, and of love.

My mom's shepard's pie with its cream style corn and mashed potatoes and onion and ground beef smothers you in kitchen love and comfort.  Waking up on a cold winter morning to hot chocolate with marshmallows screams "I love you."  Walking to my grandmother's house a quarter mile away knowing she'd have ice cream in her freezer and she'd let me have it no matter what time of day (even 9:00 a.m.) was our little secret of love.

And cheesecake on Christmas eve at my other Grandmother's house was an epic experience of love and belonging.  My earliest memories of visiting her lakeside home involved my aunt and Grandmother reveling in the fact that I truly loved the cheesecake and smiling and saying, "Yep, she's one of us alright."  Talk about belonging!

Secret Family Recipe bears uncanny resemblance
to the recipe on the Philadelphia brand label.....

There's surely a genetic component to my food addiction and the way that the refined carbs - the sugar, flour, and refined wheat - trigger a need for more.  I have explored this and the book Food Addiction: The Body Knows: Revised & Expanded Edition by Kay Sheppard truly nailed it for me.  I am addicted to some foods like an alcoholic is addicted to alcohol or a nicotine junkie (like me) is addicted to nicotine.

But like with all addictions, there's more to it than that.  There is that need inside of me - to be known, to be liked, to be loved - that desperately wants to be filled and I think I have spent a lifetime trying to fill it from the outside, oftentimes with food.  I need to start learning a new love language and stop trying to communicate to myself and the world around me through the food language.  Just like if I were studying French at the age of 44, it's going to be weird, awkward, and well, um, foreign to me.  But I'm going to have to do that.

This year for Christmas I sent friends my love in the forms of Zingerman's gourmet artisan breads, Wolferman's delicious english muffins and jams, cheeses and chocolates, and my son will be waking up this morning to my infamous french toast casserole and he knows there is truly love in every bite, like my friends know in their gifts. - best.english.muffins ever.

2011 is going to be a little strange, but I'm going to figure it out.  I'm going to learn a new love language and start speaking it to myself, then trying it out on others.  You guys can let me know how it sounds as we go.


1 comment:

  1. Learning a new language is tough, but doable. Just have to remember to pack along your sense of humor and don't be afraid to say something silly every now and again (Cow Pie, Shoo Fly Pie and Kitty Litter Pie aren't all THAT bad for you, and I have the recipes!)and laugh at yourself. Finding healthy substitutes for food items in my world is like picking better euphemisms for the potty language I'm trying to give up. ...yeeeeah. I think dieting is easier...


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