The Power of Food

Teresa - Davenport, Iowa
Entered on March 18, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

I believe in food. To our primitive ancestors, food was an assurance of survival whose quest occupied much of their day. In our modern world full of conveniences, skillful chefs have turned food into an art form to entertain our taste buds. I believe that food is much more than a key element in human survival. I believe that food is a powerful force that offers comfort, community, and a way of communication.

Think back to a fond childhood memory with family. Chances are that it occurred during a holiday feast or family dinner. Those moments are remembered and relived whenever a scent is reminiscent of Mom’s meatloaf or Grandma’s apple pie. I believe that food can bring back home, no matter how far away it may be. Preparing a family recipe brings back memories of relatives who have prepared the same dish, and eating it reminds me of reunions, holidays, and the crazy discussions we always seem to get into around our dinner table.

I believe that food is a great method of communication. Because of vast age and distance barriers, I have always found it challenging to connect with my grandparents who live in Wyoming. Vacations spent at their house out west were fun, but, being the youngest kid, I always felt left out from the rest of the family. I discovered my niche when I fell in love with cooking a few years ago. My grandma was a home economics major and enjoyed throwing dinner parties throughout her younger years. We have bonded over the stove making noodles, soups, and countless cheesecakes. Whenever I fly out for a visit, I come armed with a suitcase full of recipes.

My grandpa was diagnosed with a cancer relapse over a year ago. A lifelong lover of food, he anxiously anticipated the meals I fixed. Chemotherapy treatments drained the cancer, but also his upbeat mood and appetite. He spent most of his time sleeping and had trouble moving around and performing everyday tasks. When we went to visit, it was hard for me to watch him suffer instead of being his usual witty self. I took refuge in the kitchen, experimenting with new recipes and fixing his old favorites. My meals always seemed to spice up his day and his mood. His offbeat sense of humor would make an appearance at the table. Although it hurt me to see his deteriorating health, I felt good knowing that my meals made up for my lack of verbal communication.

I believe that memories can be preserved through food. I know that for the rest of my life, every time I fix crab alfredo sauce or bake double chocolate biscotti I will be reminded of my grandpa’s brightly colored wardrobe, unique jokes, and love of nature. Just one bite of a familiar dish has the power to remind me of the warmth, security, and love my family has to offer.