I can’t remember when I first started reading cookbooks for fun.
I do recall, probably around age 10, sitting at the kitchen counter looking through my mom’s stack of cookbooks trying to decide what to make for dinner. A few of the cookbooks were from local Christian schools and churches. Some were classic, like the red and white Betty Crocker cookbook. Other recipes were clipped from magazines or quickly jotted down by family and friends and placed in a binder.
Now I’m in my own house, with my own collection of cookbooks and family recipes. In the age of Pinterest and Google, cookbooks are hardly practical. They take up space and don’t include a search engine. Yet there is something calming to me about flipping through cookbooks. The recipes tell stories of people and places, of faith and community, right next to the list of ingredients. In fact, if my cookbooks could talk, I wonder if they might share important truths (besides that adding MORE sugar and butter improve any dessert), such as:
- It’s a Big World. One of my favorite cookbooks, Extending the Table by Joetta Handrich Schlabach, transports me to everyday life in other parts of the world. The easy to follow recipes take me to India, Ethiopia, and Spain. I learn about spices I never knew existed while being amazed at the diversity (and flavor!) of the world God created.
- Food is Compassion. “This recipe can be doubled and shared.” “This meal can be prepared ahead and frozen.” “Perfect meal for a busy family.” These simple lines tell the stories of moms cooking for their families. They share of inviting others over for dinner or bringing a meal to someone going through a hard time. These words are proof that food can be a tangible act of compassion, a way to be Jesus to those around us. Shauna Niequist, in her book Bittersweet, writes “I think preparing food and feeding people brings nourishment not only to our bodies but to our spirits. Feeding people is a way of loving them.” These words from Shauna get at the deeper purpose in preparing and sharing in meals.
- Recipes are Reminders. A few years ago, I went to my Grandma’s house to learn how to make a pie crust. The pie crust that her Grandma taught her how to make. She showed me the steps but also wrote a very detailed recipe. I’m so glad she wrote the steps down so I can pass along the recipe to others and reference it myself. This hand-written recipe also serves as a reminder of the generational love of family, which is a gift from God in my life.
My cookbooks teach me about loving others. The recipes tell me I can explore the world without leaving my kitchen. Certain meals and recipes remind me of the value of tradition and family. I’m grateful for these lessons and can’t wait to find other crumbs of wisdom among the ingredients!
Do you have a favorite cookbook? Do you have any stories of faith and food coming together in your life? I’d love to hear them!