We look after each other in all kinds of ways. Taking care of basic needs – the meals, the cups of tea not least among them – are daily routines that, for all their repetition and effort, can express love and bring deep joy and contentment. Some of the most profound satisfaction in life can come from eating a meal that’s been cooked for us by someone who cares — and from creating those moments of pleasure for someone else. It always touches me when someone really enjoys a meal I’ve cooked for them, and I love it when someone cooks for me.
When I moved to England years ago, it wasn’t the done thing to talk about food, and most meals were still cooked at home, mostly by women, as fast-food and ready-meals weren’t the industries they are now. Food today is a hot topic, but we cook less than ever for ourselves. Around half our meals are now eaten outside the home. Americans for the first time are spending more on food that’s cooked for them than on groceries, and the UK may not be far behind. It seems our longing for soulful, comforting, nourishing, ‘real’ food has increased as our experience of it has become more elusive. We feel time-poor, and with so many seemingly instant options, home-cooking can feel out of reach.