Food is very important in my life. No, I don’t just mean eating it (although I really do love that part and I am known to have an endless stomach), but the social aspects that come with it. I could go on and on about how much I love eating food, but that’s going to just make you (whoever you are) hungry and that wouldn’t be very nice of me.
What I mean by food is important to me, I mean that it always brings me together with people I love. Growing up with a Chinese grandmother who ordered at least 10 dishes for a family meal made me learn that it’s nearly impossible for me to just get up and leave after I ate, because there’s bound to be more food to come. I also learned that if you sat next to my grandma, you’d leave the restaurant 10 pounds heavier than when you came in. There was no hope to escape the eating when she was at your side. The rest of us were lucky enough to quickly adapt the “keep your head low and stir the plate with your chopsticks to make it seem like you’re eating” technique. It was almost shameful to have your plate empty at any time when there was still food left on the table. Maybe because I haven’t been home for so long since she passed away, I haven’t really realized how much I’m going to miss those dinners.
Anyway, food always has had more meaning to me than I expect for normal people. (In case anyone has noticed, I’m far from normal. Not exciting or interesting, but not normal.) I try my best to bring food to someone’s house as often as I can because I grew up in an environment that meant bringing food was a sign of respect and love. Usually the food I bring is homemade because that shows even more care.
So when someone rejects my homemade goods that I specifically made for them, I get really hurt.This happened last year around Christmas time when I brought my mom’s famous spice cookies to school. When I mean famous, I mean I have friends who ask me when she’s going to make them two months in advance. They’re delicious and several have told me that they swear there is crack in them because they’re that addictive. (You guys have no idea how much it pains me that my mom is making them right now in LA and I’m all the way up here in Berkeley.)
So my friend last Christmas was in a mood and he said he didn’t want them. I thought he was just sad so I insisted that he take the bag that I made for him that he could eat when he wasn’t being all angsty. He then practically yelled at me, saying he didn’t want them and that he didn’t like them anyway. My jaw dropped. It was like a slap in the face. It wasn’t that he was rejecting these baked goods of wonderfulness. It was that it felt as if he was rejecting me and my token of friendship. Also, no human can not like these cookies, so his deliberate lie was to make me feel bad which was another slap in the face.
I guess food for me is symbolic for “I care about you. See, I made this for you! Eat it! Taste my love!” It’s why I do my best to (I don’t always get to ) bring food, usually dessert of some sort, to friends I haven’t seen for a long time or people who are going through hard times. Maybe it means more to me than it does to them, but at least I know that I can scrape by as “The Girl Who Was Nice Enough to Make Me Brownies That One Time”. For me, that’s enough.