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Food Is Love

Food Is Love
From the PorchBy Amber Nagle
Food Is Love
From the PorchBy Amber Nagle

My husband’s biological mother, Margaret, hosted a big Sunday dinner at her Texas home last weekend while we visited. Gene’s newly found mother, sister, nieces, grand niece, grand nephew, and several cousins and neighbors attended. It was quite a spread of food — brown rice, two types of gumbo (shrimp and chicken), an apple salad, a green salad, french bread, guacamole, beans, and sausage, for starters. At noon, my husband and I gorged ourselves on delicious foods, and when we thought we couldn’t eat one more bite, his mother and sister brought out the desserts.

“This is apricot pound cake,” his half sister Kim said. “I made it from our grandmother’s recipe. And this is dewberry cobbler — another of Nano’s recipes.”

“What’s a dewberry?” I asked. “Something akin to a wild blackberry,” my husband’s Texas mom said, plopping a platter of cookies in front of us. “And these are sand tarts — another of my mother’s favorite recipes.”

I was so full, but I couldn’t resist trying a little of each of these familypassed down desserts, and I was glad I did. I started with a bite of butter cookie showcasing finely ground pecans and a sweet, sugary glaze. Mmmm.

We ate and ate and ate some more, and then we waddled into the den and settled into big easy chairs feeling quite miserable. We talked and laughed and learned lots about Gene’s new family members. It was beautiful. Then around 5 p.m., we ate again.

“Thank you for everything,” I told Gene’s Texas Mom after we helped clean up her kitchen. “Lunch and dinner were wonderful. I’m so full, I don’t know if I’ll be able to sleep tonight.”

“Food is love,” she smiled and said. “Food is love.”

And I understand this concept, because I grew up in the South with a mother, two grandmothers and lots of aunts who cooked to show their love. With every chop, stir, and simmer, they poured their affection into the pots and skillets on the stovetop, infusing each ingredient with their deepest emotions. A spoonful of care, a sprinkle of compassion, and a dash of devotion transformed simple meals into masterpieces of affection.

Food is a love language with no words or phrases. It can heal wounds, bridge divides, and ignite new relationships. A homemade cake has the power to make a person feel cherished. A steaming bowl of peas or beans with a slice of buttery cornbread thrown on top can comfort a weary soul or offer solace in times of hardship. Through food, we connect with others on a primal level, nurturing not only our bodies but also our spirits. In a world that can sometimes feel cold, distant and unkind, food has the power to remind us that love is always within reach and waiting to be shared and savored.

We flew home from Texas on Tuesday, and by Thursday, we were making our way to Amelia Island to meet up with Gene’s newly found biological father, Bill, and his wife, Laura. They treated us to lunch and dinner on Thursday, then another lunch and dinner on Friday — all the while bowing our heads together and thanking the Lord for the food and the people seated around the table. At one point, they even brought out a chocolate ganache cake and a homemade peanut butter cheesecake pie.

There’s something intimate about sharing a meal with people — something friendly and open and joyous. Again, food is synonymous with love, and sitting with Bill and Laura, I realized that there was love around that table, too.

“I’m feeling more comfortable continued from page

with my biological father,” my husband said after we left the island. “I’m learning a lot about him, and I really enjoyed the visit, but I’m still full from all of the food we’ve eaten.”

“Me, too,” I replied. We spent Saturday with my mother in Ohoopee. After running a quick errand in the morning, Mom got busy in the kitchen and cooked country fried steak with onions and gravy, creamed potatoes, cabbage, and rutabagas — another meal that translated her love for us. She cooked and hummed a song by The Mavericks as Gene and I salivated in another room. Again, we ate too much, but it was dropdead delicious. Neither my husband nor I could stop. Mom nurtured our bodies and souls with that meal! Amen!

“We are going on a diet tomorrow,” I announced. “We’ve eaten so much this week. From Texas to Florida to Georgia, it’s been a big week, and I think I’ve gained five pounds.”

“Food is love,” my husband said and grinned.

And boy did we feel loved this week.

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