This was posted on Shut Up Foodies and was deeply humbling.
We may never fully understand them, but cooking well has implications that are both far reaching, long lasting, and may never fully be revealed. Over the last few years, there has come about a shift in the way we look at food and, well, how we cook it. No longer satisfied with eating well, we’ve turned food into a game of one-upmanship. We seem to be locked in a race to see who can have the best this or the first that. Oh sure, I’ve been involved in this game. Thing is, I’ve never been able to afford to play. So, over the years since I’ve left home I’ve made a habit of feeding my friends and family what I could, when I could. Just about any given Sunday you could have stopped over for some form of “family meal”. I would put dinner on the table and open the door to my home. It sometimes upset me that I couldn’t get this ingredient, that pan, or whatever cooking technique was the style du jour. Blinded by my quest to cook “the best”, I never realized that I was cooking well. Never, until I found out that I have tongue cancer and the best treatment to save my life is to remove my tongue. I got cancer, fair enough. But in my fucking tongue? The irony is not lost on me. I waited as long as I could to tell my friends, not sure of how they’d react. No one has been happy to hear the news, but something funny has happened. Along with their condolences, they’ve shared past food memories. Not of me being some demi-god in the kitchen, but of me cooking well. The first came from an ex-girlfriend- “I literally was talking about the chocolate cake you made me for my birthday yesterday with my friends. It was awesome and I will never forget that!” We dated almost twenty years ago. The one that really got me came last night. “I haven’t seen Scott in probably 5 years, but I remember a wonderful dinner he once made for a group of us.” I came so close to crying, still might.
Tonight, two days before my glossectomy, I will share dinner with a few of my closest friends. Yes, cancer will take my tongue- but, it can’t take the memories of food cooked well and time spent enjoying it. I won’t taste for months, years, or maybe never again. It doesn’t matter much what we eat, however, as I will have the memory of one last, well cooked, real-food dinner shared with others. You see, in the end, it doesn’t matter much the provenance of your ingredients, the technique of your preparation, the pedigree of your education. What matters is that you did what you could with what you had, you cooked well. You put food on the table and invited others to share. And, at that moment, you became inextricably joined. A bond that will last forever!