The language of food

One of the things I love about cooking so much, apart from the fact that it involves making delicious food, is that it’s like its own form of communication.

A lot can be said by the simple act of cooking for others. When a parent makes their child his or her favourite food, it’s their way of saying “I love you and want to make you happy”. When someone’s loved one passes away and people bring them casseroles, it says “I’m so sorry for your loss and I’m here to help in any way I can”. When we make someone a birthday cake it says “Hey you’re pretty awesome and deserve to be celebrated today.”

The language of food is one we can all speak and understand.

And as someone who’s not always as good with words, I tend to do a lot of talking through food.

Friday night I made lemon rosemary roast chicken with carrots and baby potatoes for JZ, which said “I love you enough to dissect out the chicken organs by myself and get smushed kidneys all over my bare hands”.

Lemon rosemary roast chicken

For all you Canadians, the recipe was from the Spring 2014 issue of Food and Drink, and I highly recommend it! The brine makes the chicken so tender and moist. It may take an extra day to prepare, but it’s so worth it.

Lemon rosemary roast chicken

Saturday morning I made us these whole wheat buttermilk pancakes for breakfast, which said “Haha sucker, I totally snuck whole wheat flour into these without you even noticing”. They were really good – especially with chocolate chips added to them!

Whole wheat buttermilk pancakes

Just a note: I only use whole wheat pastry flour in my baking – regular whole wheat flour tends to make things too dense and tough.

Later on in the day my good friend came over to catch up over lunch, so I made us African peanut soup (subbing sunflower seed butter for the peanut butter) from Oh She Glows’ cookbook with salted smashed avocado on buckwheat toast. This said “I really value our friendship and love having life chats with you.”

Oh She Glows African peanut soup

And that night JZ and I went over to his parents’ house for dinner. So I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies (recipe from here) to say “Thanks for having me over for dinner”.

Chocolate chip cookies

The dinner they made was seriously delicious! And I’m no mind reader but I think it’s message was “Be careful, our food is as good as it looks and might send you into a 12 hour food coma.” I didn’t listen – oops.

How do you communicate through food?

33 Comments

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33 Responses to The language of food

  1. Love this Chelsea – you are so right! It is funny how social and emotional food is. We really do associate many feelings with food. I really want to start cooking for others but honestly people think I eat “weird” at this point. Real food can be delicious :)

  2. i never knew the difference between pasty dough and regular – so thank you! :)

  3. This is so, so true! I think the reason why I love baking so much is to watch the way in which people react to a tasty and decadent dessert. I watching them enjoy that piece of cake or cookie. It makes people happy and that makes me happy!

  4. P

    I think desserts are the best way to communicate through food! Who doesn’t want a batch of fresh homemade cookies or cake with lots of frosting ;) ?

  5. Ha! Cute post. :) I relate to the sneaking in of healthy ingredients and the satisfaction it brings.

  6. I just picked up Food & Wine over the weekend, so I’ll check out that recipe! And I think just the fact that I’m willing to make dinner (and breakfast) for the boy on a near-daily basis shows that I love him ;-) and why I love bringing desserts to family gatherings. It makes me happy to make others happy when I cook or bake for them!

  7. Beautiful love :) I think my favorite thing to say through food is “I was thinking of you and made you this for you because I know you like it.” You got me really excited for roasted chicken too haha.,.it’s on our menu for the week :)

  8. I love this post! It is exactly how I think about food, as well as the process of making the food! Cooking together is also a gift – from the prep to the cleanup, it is a way that me and my other half share the start and end to a day. I love following your blog for the ideas and also these types of truths about food and eating. Thanks for sharing!

    • Chelsea

      You’re right – I love the process of cooking together too! Although really it’s just me cooking while he fetches me wine haha.

  9. Chels this is AWESOME! I am exactly the same way. Nothing makes me happier than cooking for others because I have the hardest time vocalizing to people how much I love and care for them. This is especially true with C who I am not always the nicest to but then will bake a batch of his favourite cookies to say “i’m sorry”. I think he would appreciate an apology too but the cookies seem to do just fine ;)

    • Chelsea

      That’s so sweet! I’m sure he now picks fights with you JUST so that you will have to apologize and bake him cookies haha. ;)

  10. Lol oh I’m so going to tell J that I love him enough to dissect a chicken and cover my hands in smushed innards. Lol omg best line ever.

    In all seriousness though, I do love this post. You’re absolutely right that food is a beautiful form of communication and expression of emotion. Talk is cheap, but baking and cooking? Not so much.

  11. Haha I think the chicken sent that message perfectly. I’m with Amanda. This post is so spot on though.

  12. Chelseakale you continue to amaze me. Scrap that, it’s a given now. This is so true and something I can relate to, to a T- I love using cooking as a means to show thanks, affection, friendship and all that for others.

    Now…let’s discuss what you’ll be making me huh ;)

    • Chelsea

      If I’m Chelseakale, I think you need to be called Armangelato… actually that sounds kind of cool. Kind of like an ancient Roman philosopher or something?

  13. This is awesome! What a wonderful way of describing our relationship with cooking! I truly love that and could not agree more! I love the pancakes one! Thanks for sharing, I am going to share now too!

  14. adorable post! I completely agree- I have a hard time vocalizing what I feel, especially with important people so I totally speak through food as well!

  15. Lately I’ve been trying to make food more about socializing and being a part of a community rather then it just being used to satisfy me. That said, I haven’t been very accountable to that goal this month so this post was a great reminder. I think as soon as I am done commenting I’m going to text a friend and see if they are free for lunch!

    • Chelsea

      Food is often a solo thing for me too, which I do enjoy, but it’s nice to have a good balance between eating alone vs. eating with others!

  16. I need to make that soup from OSG cookbook!!!! Your chicken is spot on to the cover of the magazine – nicely done, friend!!! Gah. I want to have just a baking/cooking day to myself. I wonder if Tyler would do that for me (he probably would because he knows it would benefit his belly hahah)

    • Chelsea

      That soup was so good! Actually, everything from her cookbook has been good so far. That woman is a genius!

      I hope you got your baking/cooking day! ;)

  17. I love this! I took Communicating with Food last Spring and it totally changed the way I think about our relationship with food. It truly brings people together like no other thing can!

  18. I freaking LOVE this!! I’m right there with you on not being that great with words so yeah, I do a LOT of communicating through food…I just love to see the look on people’s faces when they try something that I’ve made…whether it be an old favorite or trying something new (even if they don’t know it…muahahaha!). And I think those cookies said a little more than “thanks for having me”…more like, “yep, your son is dating someone who totally has her shit together and can cook like a pro…just wait till you hear about the chicken I made him the other day!” ;)

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