The Ethics of Cooking Dinner

Happy Thanksgiving! It seems that the appropriate thing to write about for today is food. That is what I have been thinking about and planning for weeks. Though I do think about food most hours of everyday (except when my children are asleep and no one is asking me for a snack). It is one of those things essential to our survival, but there is also an element of ethics to preparing a nice meal.

When one gives a dinner in honor of something or someone, one is going to put care into the food preparations. Whether, they hire a caterer or do the food preparations themselves, there is value in what they are doing. And I have always thought that it makes a food more special if it is homemade. For example, my mom always made our birthday cakes. We never had store bought cake, or even frosting. Her act of making a cake for me had meaning, and I experienced her love for me through that act.

Thanksgiving is a day when many people come together and make a feast, and the time and the care put into these preparations is not without value. In the story of Martha and Mary, we have Mary sitting and talking and Martha in the kitchen cooking food. We never here if Martha is an amazing cook, but I imagine that Jesus could enjoy a good meal. When he calls Mary’s act of listening to him the “better part”, he implies that Martha’s act of preparing food is also a good.

When people share a meal, they are united together in a deeper relationship, and what the food is effects the relationship as well. I have noticed that when I get together with other moms and their kids, the shyest kid will always warm up to the other kids once they have eaten food together. I would say that there are different levels of relationship building food. The lowest is the simplest family meal, maybe mostly out of a box or the freezer, but the family is still together and eating and discussing. There is also the homemade meal, where a little bit more time has been put into it. The conversation may be the same, but homemade chicken soup is much more satisfying than the canned stuff.

Then there is the holiday feast. Cooking has been going on for days, and finally the turkey is being carved and the table is set. The planning, the labor, the love, they make this meal special, but also what is being honored. Today we are thankful for our many blessings in life. And the highest family meal is the Last Supper, where Jesus, Himself, took on the role of the servant, washing feet and transforming food into his Body and Blood. It is not a coincidence that good food unites people together.

Originally posted at Truth and Charity.