The Power of the Feast

Here it is – second post time. I have been wracking my brain all day about what I should post about, and I have come to the shocking realization that as a student living in college accommodation, with a looming thesis deadline and interviews on top of meetings on top of conferences, it is a wonder I have time to bathe, much less cook!

Don’t be alarmed. I have definitely bathed.

It is however true that the only things I have made this week are poached eggs (don’t knock this: a well-poached egg is truly a delight), and some health-conscious lunches (baked chicken with harissa, roasted veg, and quinoa –> look at me go!). Although I will say that when I went to purchase said-eggs, I discovered that Tabasco now makes CHIPOTLE Tabasco. This was life-altering. I LOVE CHIPOTLE. And let’s face it, there isn’t a ton of chipotle opportunities in Oxford.

In lieu of cooking anything interesting this week, I would like to tell you about what I cooked last term…it was my very first time…yes, you guessed right…TURKEY!

This past term was actually quite a milestone, it being the first time I’ve cooked traditional meals for both Thanksgiving (that would be Canadian) and Diwali – feasts, if you will. I perhaps indulged in too many beverages of the grape variety the night before I was set to cook Thanksgiving dinner for 15, but that just added to the excitement factor. And honestly, I loved it (did NOT love having to do the cleaning up after but that’s a whole other blog…). It was so nice to share my own family traditions with friends who had other traditions, or may have never even celebrated Thanksgiving! There were a few of us cooking, so there were many traditions on the table, and man was there a lot of food:Image

And then a few short weeks after that, I was back at it, cooking a Diwali dinner for my friend M and I. Obviously I called my mum and got my favourite recipes from her – my friend was so surprised that I, having been born and raised in Canada, actually knew how to cook Indian food. My pride was only hurt for a short while, until she went up to get a second (and maybe even third?) helping. ;)

After the leftovers had been eaten and the panic had died down, it struck me that this is how traditions start: this year to my family’s Christmas meal, I added the sausage stuffing and sauteed kale that my friend C made at our Thanksgiving dinner. Another friend said that he would start putting bacon on HIS Thanksgiving turkey, as my family does. It was exciting to me, this sense of interconnectedness I felt – I was so happy to be including others in my family traditions, and being included in theirs. And I know many of our friends who joined us, who had never celebrated Thanksgiving, were overjoyed to be having a real Thanksgiving Experience. This just brought home for me the overwhelming power of the FEAST, that magnificent, fussy, over-complicated, wonderful food tradition. A feast has the power to transport you to a different place, remind you of special and important people, and comfort and invigorate you (at the same time, no less!). Cooking such a meal (for me, at least) was even better: knowing I was able to help my fellow ex-pats feel less homesick, provide the first (and vegetarian-friendly) Thanksgiving meal my friend had had in years, or even just help a friend feel like Oxford could be home, made me feel like a million bucks. And the leftovers didn’t hurt either.

So what I would like (and would like for you) to take away from these two anecdotes is this: remember the power that food has over us. Use this power only for good! And although sometimes it is tempting (VERY tempting) to reach for chocolate or wine when you’re feeling a bit blue, maybe instead put a teeeeensy little more effort in and make yourself something that reminds you of better times, better places. A mini-feasty. Who knows, you might feel better, and at the very least, you’ve killed some time and have food in the fridge!

On this positive note, I bid you adieu; I shall endeavour to be more fruitful in the kitchen this week, but in the meantime, stay delicious! ;)

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