Yes, cooking’s exactly like love, a process which binds us and ties us, and molds us into the people we aspire to be. For that I give thanks.
Over the weekend, I finished a book by my favorite blogger, Shanna Mallon author of the blog Food Loves Writing, titled “Written Together: A Story of Beginnings In the Kitchen & Beyond”.
A short book with less than 80 pages, its simple clarity and honest declarations had me resonating with many of its themes and topics that Shanna touched on.
A memoir detailing the unfolding of a relationship with her husband, whom she had incidentally met via their blogs, Shanna describes how their story unraveled with the most beautiful and down-to-earth anecdotes, and many parts of the book have touched me to tears. The respect, love and care her husband Tim demonstrated throughout their courtship is what many women dream of, and what most men should aspire to give (in my opinion of course).
Their fresh, sweet relationship was cultivated through Skype, long-distance phone calls, and faith in the other, with each being three states away, and as I read through the book, I was constantly reminded of the long-distance relationship that Juan and I had for two years before I moved to Buenos Aires so we could live in the same continent and country and time zone.
The book’s first chapter opens with the title “Because Cooking’s Like Love”, and ends with a paragraph that very concisely sums up the gist of the book.
“Cooking’s like love. Because while love is romance and dating and having someone’s hand to hold on a long summer’s night, love is also first emails and months of long-distance phone calls and seeing yourself with new eyes as you pick up your life and move into a new one. Love and cooking are not just the dinner everyone gathers around or the wedding that brings in friends from out of town. They’re the process – the spilled cakes and the broken hearts and the late-night fights on the sofa. You can want to cook because you want to eat, but you will love to cook also because of what it gives you along the way: the smell of tomatoes cooking down with red wine, the sound of butter sizzling in a pan, the way your hands remember how to mince a garlic clove, super fine, like they’ve done since the early days, when everything was new.”
Isn’t it so true? Doesn’t the paragraph ring in your heart and hold it tight, as it did to mine?
I was reminded of what love really is when reading the book – the offer to pray together with your partner and committing your future into the hands of God, the promises made and fulfilled, not just empty words and fluff to impress the other. The little acts of kindness and patience that is evident in everyday life, not just on birthdays or special occasions.
And then, I naturally think of Juan, and how he makes me happy through small gestures and thoughtfulness, through only saying something when he really means it, and through his very truthful answers and questions, to express the things which bother him, instead of taking to fights and arguments.
I think of our relationship when we were still physically in different continents – how we would time our schedules and wake up earlier or head to bed later in order to be able to Skype with each other, and how sometimes we would miss each other so much that a 2-D image on a computer was so lacking, but the very best we could hope for. And how we would only be able to see each other every 5 months, because the journey was so far and expensive. I remember the times Skype would hang halfway during our conversations, and sometimes during our arguments, and the frustration that would overwhelm us seemed impossible to overcome. And the times when we wondered if it was possible to continue a relationship so tough, and whether it was worth it for one of us to move to be with the other.
It was when I was briefly in India that we decided we had to do something about the distance. And in a very bold and crazy move based solely on faith and the hope that things would work out, I jumped across continents to settle in a land at least 30 hours by plane from Singapore, and prayed so hard things would be worth it.
As it turned out, sometimes all you need is a little faith, and things will take care of themselves.
I’m not saying there aren’t times that I miss my family and friends in Singapore, or wish that I was able to see them more often. There are of course many occasions of homesickness, and I’ve spent days wondering if what I did was right, but I’m always reminded of why we fought for what we believed in, and that it was definitely worth it.
Juan shows me love and respect, not just in presents or nice words, but also in small thoughtful actions. He supports my desire to write by telling his colleagues very proudly about the blog I have, and speaks words of encouragement that are necessary in times of sadness and difficulty. He listens to me, and thinks about what I say, an act very tough to do in a world where everyone enjoys giving their opinion more than taking others’. When we argue or fight and get bitter, he reminds me to tell him what I feel, because communication is the most important element. And though it may sometimes cost me to speak my mind, I do, because he is worth it.
It’s the constant reminder that even if there may be stormy days or grey or rainy days, most days will still be filled with sunshine and blue skies.
It’s my birthday today and yesterday he made me my birthday cake from scratch– with the right recipe but unfortunately the wrong type of flour. (He had used normal flour instead of self-raising flour, and the cake turned out a little too dense, but still definitely edible!). But it is the thought that counts, and that’s why I love him for it.
The Classic Pound Cake, which was one of the first cakes I’d ever baked, is still one of my favorites, and the recipe can be found here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
And so, just like cooking, love isn’t just about the pretty photographs which capture our smiles and happy faces, it’s also the tough discussions, long arguments, kindness towards each other and learning to forgive and accept. It’s the act of bringing the right ingredients together, stirring them to form batter and then carefully transferring them to a pan for baking, at the right temperature, for the right amount of time. It’s testing and trying a recipe over and over until you come up with the best amount of each ingredients, and a continuous improvement to make the dish better. In the same way, relationships always have to get better, because if they grow stagnant, they become dull and neglected, and spoil as the days go by.
There’s no perfect way to do things, neither in cooking nor in love, its the effort and the desire to better yourself that’s the key…so love and cook..always!