COOKING FOR REAL - MAD COOKING MAMA GAME.
Cooking for a Friend Sushi Plate
Today I have been cooking. Tomorrow we have a funeral, and we expect 70 people to come. I feel grateful to be given a task to do. I was blessed with the gift of oratory (Whaikorero in Maori, the indigenous language here). As a five year old, I began listening to the elders (kaumatua) giving speeches on the Marae (meeting place). Sometimes political debate, often about building relationships, and at times after the death of a friend – I was lucky to hear them. The real masters at it used a mixture of spirit and heart, with the intellectual thrusts and parries only occurring once the spirits had been connected and the hearts opened. I learnt to love the power of metaphor and shared experiences. I am the one who speaks at family gatherings. The oldest child, indeed oldest grandchild of my generation, I am called upon to speak at life’s important moments. I also love to cook. Sometimes it is best to be in the background -- to provide service. Tomorrow we have a funeral. Val has a husband and children, and maybe grandchildren who will speak, and as someone who was in the choir at church – she has women to sing for her. I found myself staring at the beautiful food in the market this morning – the bread, and the cheese. I also found myself staring at the mothers and children, joyful new life, with tears streaming down my face as I contemplated the losses we all bear, the friends and family who die, and indeed my own mortality. The food at the wake is all part of the service/ceremony. Here, we say it is the process of “whakanoa” – that the rituals we have with death are sacred, and we must return to the world of the body by sharing food together – thereby grounding us again and reminding us of the rhythms of “normal” daily life. We often forget the women in the kitchen, the ones who provide us with the grounding comfort. It is so easy to take them for granted. It is forecast to be a cold day so I have made warm food (garlic bread and rolls); baked chocolate slice and ginger crunch; there will be pikelets (mini pancakes); and I could not resist the beautiful wheels of cheese with cherry tomatoes and herbs from my autumn garden. We all contribute in different ways – sometimes out front with the speeches, and sometimes out back with the food. Either way, it is an honor to be allowed to serve.It feels like forever but dangit that woman can cook
My next and last entry for the Monthly Scavenger Hunt theme - 'Diamonds are Forever' This is Papa Ricky and Nana, my neighbors parents and also another set of grandparents to my kids. They've been married for 50 years. I asked him how it felt to be married so long and he said 'It feels like forever but dangit that woman can cook'. I took this shot after he whooped my backside in a game of street badminton.
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