Sunday, April 3, 2011

Cooking for love

I am not a theologian, philosopher or intellectual.  (My regular readers already know this.)  But I do like to ponder the big questions:  What is the meaning of life?  Is there a God?  Why cook when there is Schwans?  Or Lean Cuisine?

Why cook?  This is a good question.  Most people are really busy working, taking care of children and elders, commuting, watching reality TV and NCAA basketball or mowing their lawns.  Why should they stand at the sink chopping and peeling when they can get a reasonably tasty and kind of nutritious footlong sandwich for five bucks?   Tens of millions of Americans answer this question every day.  Many - maybe a majority -  choose the footlong or an equivalent.  Something they believe to be quick, cheap and convenient.   But millions don't.  I wonder why. 

I think one reason people cook is for love.  Giving it.  Getting it.  Feeding people good food is a pretty good way to cement relationships.  It is a pretty good way to make beautiful memories.  It also is a way to pass skills and knowledge on to the younger generation.

I know this because I am somewhat of an aficionado of old lady funerals.   There are a lot of old ladies where I live and as they have taken their leave over the years I have often had the privilege of attending their memorial services.  And I have noticed that their families almost always talk about their cooking, with great love and appreciation.

The mother of a friend of mine died recently at age 94.  Her name was Evelyn Theresa Marzolf, but everybody called her Evie or simply Grandma.  She worked for 42 years at the grocery store in her town, finally retiring at age 82.  Yet she still found the time to cook and bake - and take her grandchildren fishing!  She was a petite little lady with a big heart.  I did not attend her funeral, but I did receive a copy of a lovely booklet prepared by her large extended family.  Here is some of what they said:

"Evie would always have a pan of fresh cinnamon rolls and a cup of strong coffee for us.  Thank you Evie for all you've taught me, baking, being kind, sharing all those wonderful recipes, and always showing us, not just telling how".

"Evie taught me so many things it is hard to really know where to start...Apple butter, cinnamon rolls, German sweet chocolate pies, apple pie, jams, jellies, how to split African violets."

"My memory of Evie is her wearing a short sleeve shirt and checkered double knit pants and cooking up some great food in the kitchen.  The best cook there ever was!"

"I remember how easy it was for her to feed everyone - what a good cook and baker she was.  No one every left her house hungry and always with a bag of treats."

"I learned how to make mincemeat from her."

"My favorite memory was when my Dad and I would come visit for Labor Day weekend and on that Sunday we would go to her beautiful church then walk back over to her house and she would make us her home made cinnamon rolls.  Wow were they delicious.  I would remember the smell when I would be on the plane to go back home and I couldn't wait for our next visit."

"You have created so many beautiful memories for all of us, from childhood all the way up to just a few weeks ago when I had another lesson on how to make pie crust.  You have taught me so many things ... not just about cooking and baking, but about life."

Rest in peace, Evie Marzolf, good home cook.

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely tribute Ms. Peggy. I love the sentiment. Cooking for Love. While sometimes we take the $5 footlong, most of the time I cook. I like to cook because it makes me happy, because I love that my husband and I are putting healthy food in our bodies. And I love to cook because my husband says, "mmmm" and nods his head in approval after just one bite of EVERYTHING I make. He's just so sweet. You are right. Cooking is love.