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July 11, 2008

Cooking for Another: A Loving Act

When I was younger - between 27 and 32 - I lived with someone for about four years. He was a really great cook. In fact, I still have a recipe book he put together of all the things he really liked to either cook or eat and since I like to eat just about anything, it was one of the ways in our relationship that we were very compatible.

Except,more often than not, I wanted the "excitement" and diversity of eating out. I didn't want to stay in just because he'd cooked. At that time, I didn't really appreciate what was behind this act of cooking for me.

My very favorite thing he used to cook me was his own creation of chanterelle mushrooms, Italian style, and he had a recipe for Cajun-Italian prawns that was, well, foreplay! I'm nothing if not appreciative now!

On my 40th birthday, he made me from scratch, a vegan chocolate cake because the former meat-eater he was when I lived with him had become a vegan.

Last night I was invited to dinner at the house of a friend who I don't see a lot. He had just returned from a month-long trip to the Burgundy and Dordogne regions of France.

Photography is among his many talents and his wonderful photos of the trip were playing on his wide-screened TV and since I love looking at photography, I was in my element. He told me stories of his trip, the places he stayed, the sites, the chateaus, the beautiful meals, in a way that you can only relay with enthusiasm upon recent arrival back from a trip.

He spent the day "slaving in the kitchen" pour moi as he jokingly said and I was treated to a very delicious cold soup of carrot/ginger and spices. That was followed by juicy, beef tenderloin slices on a green salad enhanced by a subtle dressing (not a food writer, work with me here) and rounded off with key lime mousse, nicely decorated with the freshest mint leaves plucked from his herb garden and a few strawberries. It was so kind of him to treat me so well to such a delicious meal that he had made himself.

And, that's what I felt when I came home. I felt I had been honoured, just because of the time and effort he had taken to invite me and cook for me.

I thought back to when I had lived with Will and I thought about how, at the time, I did not really recognize, because I had grown accustomed to being cooked for by him, how much effort and love goes into the act of cooking for others, especially when that little extra effort is taken.

I have been lucky, lucky, lucky over the years to have many friends who seem to love to cook and have treated me to their creations.

Last night, I was really reminded of how a little extra effort, especially in the kitchen, (but honestly, just pick a room, any room) goes a long way and how that way of being can leave such a lasting impression.

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