Sometimes, I can speak better through food. I’ve been doing it for years, but only recently have I really realized that it’s another language I’m pretty fluent in. All of the words and emotions I want to tell someone can so easily be channelled into a dish, a treat, a food gift. The happiness I’ve received from serving a meal, surprising someone with a treat or gifting anything from cookies to pickles to lasagna runs so deep. For me, good, nourishing food can do more than a card or regular birthday gift.
A friend’s birthday was this past week, and I was thinking on what to get her. As I move in my own life towards more intentional purchases, I’ve tried to apply that to gifts, but I couldn’t think of something I could buy her that would fit or wouldn’t be more of what I had given her in years past. After some thought, I decided to make her a food gift. She and I share a love of vegetarian food (as well as cheese 😉 ), so something besides a dessert sounded like a fun challenge and something she would appreciate.
After scrounging around the pantry, a carrot and lentil soup came together in my mind. I’m not entirely sure why soup at the time, but I went with it. It had been cool that week? I just really like making soup? I just went with it. As I was putting this soup together, I started to get a little unsure about this gift. It’s definitely the most unique food gift I’ve ever made and I was hoping she would see a mason jar filled with a pureed soup as exciting as I did. Would a baked good be better? Should I start over? Was this going to get lost in translation?
I stuck with my soup, because something told me just to do it and because it was a tasty soup! Roasting the carrots brought out a great flavor and kept it from getting too sweet, something I encounter when I cook the carrots with the broth in vegetable soups. The lentils added some heft to the soup but let the flavor of the carrots shine. I added some chipotle to give the soup a tiny bit of heat, depth and something different.
The next day I handed her the soup, still a little nervous. Would she get it? Would she understand what I was saying with birthday soup? “Happy Birthday! I made you some soup!” I said, placing the jar on the table.
To my delight (and relief), her eyes lit up. She was so happy and excited about this soup! She got it immediately. I had also forgotten that when she broke her foot a year ago, I made her a different soup as a Feel Better! soup. She didn’t. And in that moment, all the love, good thoughts, and magic of why I give food gifts hit me. Insecurities be damned, when it comes from making good, nourishing food from the heart, I can never go wrong.