Cooking: Making Love Delectable

Earlier today my wife asked me to make some lunch for her. This is not an unusual request for us. I love cooking almost as much as I love eating, and I can frequently be found in our kitchen, doing one or the other of those activities. So she asked me to make her some lunch, and the thing she asked for was avocado toast, a very simple dish.

But here’s the thing: I don’t like avocados. At all. In my opinion, they taste bad, they look wholly unappetizing, and their texture is downright squashy and gross. I realize many people love them, my wife and daughters and all my in-laws included, but I hate them.

So, given my wife’s request and my own disdain, what did I do?

I made her some avocado toast, of course. Because I love her.

My professor, Dr. Norman Wirzba, was fond of saying, “Food is God’s love made delectable.” What he meant by this is simple: God created us in such a way that we must rely on God’s gifts daily, down to food and water. We are utterly dependent on God’s provision. But God went a step further: when God created the things we are to eat, God made them taste really good (even avocados, to some people). Our Creator does not want us to just be dependent; God wants us to enjoy the gifts God gives us, to taste and see that the Lord is good.

Dr. Wirzba writes:

“Every time a creature eats it participates in God’s life-giving yet costly ways, ways that simultaneously affirm creation as a delectable gift, and as a divinely ordered membership of interdependent need and suffering and help. Whenever people come to the table they demonstrate with the unmistakable evidence of their stomachs that they are not self-subsisting gods. They are finite and mortal creatures dependent on God’s many good gifts: sunlight, photosynthesis, decomposition, soil fertility, water, bees and butterflies, chicken, sheep, cows, gardeners, farmers, cooks, strangers and friends (the list goes on and on).[1]

 

Once we see food this way, as a gift from God to be enjoyed, then it opens for us new ways of sharing God with others. If food is God’s love made delectable, then when I cook I am participating in God’s redemptive work in the world. When I cook for you, I am giving you an opportunity to taste and see that the Lord is good.

We do not have to cook gourmet meals for others to experience God’s love. Remember, Christ came down as a very unpretentious peasant, and the sacred meal we share at the Lord’s Table is simple bread and wine. God’s love can be experienced in a lavish feast, but God’s love can also be experienced, and probably more often is, in a bowl of chicken noodle soup. Or avocado toast.

I believe that if Christians want to be a part of God’s Kingdom here on earth, we must cultivate a sense of the divine in our everyday lives. We must be able to see God’s grace in avocado toast and dogs resting in the sunshine, putting a band-aid on a scraped knee and watching songbirds flitter about the feeder, tossing scraps onto the compost pile and waiting for Spring through long Winter days. God has given us a world of good things, to be enjoyed so that we know how much God loves us. May we be attentive.

May we join God in making divine love delectable.

[1] Wirzba, Norman. Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating. Cambridge University Press, NY. 2011. Page 2.

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