Cooking is a radical act

I read a pretty diverse assortment of blogs on a fairly regular basis. I have my political blogs, black blogs, cooking blogs, you get the picture. Anyway recently I was reading one of my regular blogs and the blogger made an indirect slam towards women who cook and do crafty work, the implication being that women who devote their blog energies to such endeavors really don’t have a voice as far as more serious discussions.  For some reason that comment stuck with me, to the point that yesterday as I was cooking a batch of chicken soup for the girl child, that it hit me…cooking and doing crafty work is not only radical in today’s world its downright empowering.

I admit this is going to be disjointed since its late but stay with me. Two images of my mother who has been deceased now 5 years both are around cooking. When my mother was starting chemotherapy, I went home to visit, well the day I was to arrive she was having chemo so the night before she started chemo, she stayed up late to cook one of my favorite meals. See, my Mom showed her love through cooking and here I was coming and despite the emotional roller coaster she was on, it just would not do to not have her daughter’s favorite foods prepared.

A few months later after we learned that despite chemo, radiation and lung surgery, we received the heartbreaking news that the cancer had spread to her brain…it was not a good time, and my folks decided on brain surgery. I went back home and at this point my Mom was not in good shape, yet the night before her surgery..brain surgery, out of nowhere she got a surge of energy and made me my absolute favorite meal, chicken and noodle stew. It was the last meal that my Mom would ever cook for me as she would only live 7 more weeks and would never return home.

It was funny because the night she made the stew, I watched her (she had never shared the recipe before and in her condition she wasn’t writing the recipe down) yet she cooked it as perfectly as she always had despite having horrible headaches and a fast growing tumor in her head.

Prior to my Mom’s death, I was a proficient cook but I was not passionate about it, yet through her last days I realized that cooking is about nutrition but its also about love. After my Mom’s death, my cooking has grown to the point that even my family and that includes my picky Dad have all said its as if I started channeling my Mom when I cook. I enjoy cooking, when I prepare meals for my family I see it as showing love. Last week I was rushing two hours before elder boy left to go back to the Midwest to prepare his favorite breakfast, he told me not to worry about it but I know how much he loves fried potatoes and onions, so I cooked them.

I look at the blogs of women who share their handicraft and culinary talents and think that for so many of us who are so busy that we have no idea what the stove actually does, that perhaps we should step back and learn something. Once upon a time family meals were the norm, yet how many families no longer break bread together?

In the Black community, broken families are the norm, in many cases headed by a single Mama, sometimes there are issues with kids running amok, would things be better if families ate together? I know I sound hokey but I do believe there is something special about family time. In my house even when its pizza night we sit and eat it together at the table where the table has been set. My son jokes I am one of the only folks he knows who does this; for us setting the table and sitting together is a norm. The type of norm that if we saw more of it maybe there would be less violence in our communities.

So to all the ladies who cook, knit and sew…you are changing the world, maybe not on a large macro level but on a level that indeed makes a difference. Cooking and taking care of one’s family is a radical act in this time.