Being Italian, my family never needed much of an excuse to eat. Birthdays, graduations, and homecomings were all celebrated with food. While it was a huge part of my everyday life, it provided so much more than just nutrition and sustenance. The smell of sauce simmering on the stove, the clinking of glasses and silverware, and “Old Blue Eyes” on the stereo, bring a sense of comfort and contentment that warms my soul. In my family, food is love, an expression of the heart, and the glue that holds us all together.

Food is Love Pin: plate of spaghetti

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There is so much value food can bring to the table (ba-dum-tss), from creative interpretation of ingredients and flavors to connectivity to culture and heritage. There’s no doubt food is love, and just like love, it comes from the heart, fills you up, and sometimes, it’s all you need.

Food is love: A GIF of spaghetti being sprinkled with cheese

“There is no sincerer love than the love of food”

George Bernard Shaw

Food is Family

Customs and traditions vary depending on where you are in the world. While many only ever flourish within the boundaries of a particular region, mouth-watering cuisine has a way of transcending borders. With all the divide in this world, a delicious meal is a tried and true way to bring people together.

Food is love: My kids making Italian hand gesture

We’ve all seen movies and images depicting large, boisterous families crowded around the kitchen table eating, drinking, and laughing. Growing up, this was my family. Some of the happiest moments of my life were spent around that table enjoying a delicious meal with the ones I love.

Food is love: eat dinner together
Thanksgiving ’07

I wanted to write this entry about food not only because I like to eat, but also because I recognize the significance of a meal beyond consumption. It’s a great creative outlet whether you enjoy cooking or baking, and the expressions of flavors and combinations are endless. Food brings people closer. Studies have shown eating together strengthens the family bond and creates the perfect environment for sparking conversation.

"Food Is Love"

The taste of food can elicit memories and feelings of nostalgia. Specific recipes and flavors connect people to their homelands and culture, even when generations separate them. Looking back, it’s clear that food has been the cement that’s kept our family close over the years. As a mother, I recognize the value in using it to enrich my own children’s lives.

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Food is Creativity

Allowing kids to help in the kitchen, daunting as cleanup may be, awards them a sense of pride while laying a solid foundation for healthy relationships with food. Observing how a meal is created and the heart that goes into it, awards them the opportunity to witness how food is love.

Seeing a culinary project through from start to finish and observing the ingredients coming together, gives children a huge sense of achievement, even if it is just heating up a jar of red sauce to go over spaghetti. Enjoying the fruits of their labor builds confidence and teaches them the value of hard work.

Food is love: Jameson in his toy kitchen cooking
Jameson in his kitchen cooking meatballs on top of spaghetti

Kids can do a lot to aid in the preparation of meals even from an early age. Have them add components to the bowl, scoop sauce on top of spaghetti, hand over utensils, or simply watch things come to a boil on the stove. Older kids can help with stirring, decorating, taste-testing, plating, and if you’re lucky, clean-up. My toddler loves to help in the kitchen. The hope is that one day he’ll be able to prepare more than just Top Ramen or Cup O’ Noodle.

Food Is Love: Play Kitchens For Kids

Food Is Love: Play Kitchen Food Is Love: Play Kitchen Food Is Love: Play Kitchen Food Is Love: Play Kitchen

When the food is ready our family eats at the table. This is a chance to catch up on the day’s events, laugh, eat, and just be together. There’s so much chaos during the day it’s nice to have moments of calm where we can all wind-down, talk, and enjoy each other’s company.

Food is Memories

Some of my favorite food memories as a kid were waking up on Sunday mornings to the smell of my dad’s spaghetti sauce. The way it permeated the walls and encompassed our senses, sparked excitement for dinner that lasted the whole day. If I woke early enough, I could help him make the meatballs. I loved the smooshing of ingredients between my fingers, the popping and oozing of the egg yolks, and hands so cold I’d have to take breaks.

These are dear memories I’ll forever hold close to my heart. Today, when I go to my parent’s house and smell the sauce from the driveway, it instantly sends me back to my childhood. Isn’t food great in that way? It’s so much more than just chewing and swallowing. It’s a little piece of who we are, traditions, and memories. A labor of love with every bite.

Food Is Love: Recipe Organizers

Food Is Love: Recipe Organizer Food Is Love: Recipe Organizer Food Is Love: Recipe Organizer

Food is Generational

Another great thing about food is that it has the power to span generations. Just as my Dad taught us to make the sauce, my Grandmother taught him and his siblings. While I never knew my Grandma Grace, I often envision her in her kitchen forming meatballs as the intoxicating smell of garlic and herbs impregnate the air. Food has a way of connecting us to our homes and loved ones, whether they’re nearby, separated by oceans, or far beyond the barrier of time.

Why Food Is Love: My Grandparents, my dad, my aunt and my uncle

Generations come and go, but recipes can last forever. I plan to teach my children to make the family sauce with the hope that one day when they have families, they’ll pass on the tradition. So, next time you’re looking for a place to eat, skip the chain restaurant and give that new little family-run hole-in-the-wall a try. You might be surprised where your taste buds transport you. Salud!

Food Is Love-Mastroianni Sauce
The Mastroianni Sauce

Is there a family recipe or food memory you hold near and dear to your heart? Tell me about it in the comments below. Cheers!

Related:

Grandma’s Meatballs

5 No-Fail Ways To Cultivate A Strong Family Bond

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16 Comments on Food Is Love: Why Food Is So Much More Than Just A Meal

  1. Yes! So much can come from gathering around the table!
    Growing up we would fly back to Ontario to visit my grandparents. We’d settle in before supper and one by one all my aunts, uncles and cousins would come over, gathering around the kitchen table, reconnecting and eating! The heated discussions, the laughter and stories shared are some of my favourite childhood moments!

  2. I love this post! It is so interesting to see how culture affects us in our connection with so many things in life. Food is one of my favorite ways to connect with family! Great post!

  3. It is article is exactly what l think! I started my food blog for thinking what you are saying ???? l have so much memory about Italian food and family tradition all in my Hart

  4. My kids love when I let them help me cook! We used to have family come over for dinner a few times a month, I can’t wait for this all to be over so we can get back to family gatherings!

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