When Is Food Inappropriate

Personally, I believe the short answer is “never”. Whether you prepare it yourself or pick up a roasted chicken at the store, providing food for someone is a gift of love. It says, “I care.” And, if you are going to take food to someone, don’t ask them if they want you to bring it. Just do it. If asked, many people will say, “Don’t bother” or, “That’s too much trouble”. The truth is, probably, they would love you to bring food but they are too polite to say so.

 

Several years ago, I was casting about trying to find a Christmas gift for some close friends. A lot of catalogs get delivered to my house. So many, in fact, I think my mail delivery person hates me. The options, I believed, would be legion. And they were. But after a few weeks, I realized that the things I was drawn to were food – specialty food baskets, food gift boxes, periodically delivered goodies… Then the light dawned. I would provide the food. All that remained was to figure out the presentation. I wasn’t just going to show up a few days before Christmas, unannounced, bearing a brisket. It didn’t take long. I would provide them with a menu and let them pick what they wanted and we could decide, together, when it would appear.

I set about drafting a menu. The presentation was grouped by courses – soups, salads, entrees, side dishes and desserts. I found a menu holder in a local restaurant supply store (you can also get them online), used the calligraphy font and typed it up. I also drafted a little poem as an introduction which held the directions – their choice, mix and/or match if desired, three or four meals throughout the year depending on schedules. It was a big hit. They loved it. The kids got involved and it was a great reason to get together. I also found out later that they told almost everybody they knew about it and the menu was always handy for show-and-tell as well as making selections for the next gathering.

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Just home from the hospital is another great time to provide food. A friend of mine has been in the hospital for awhile and his wife, obviously, was spending a great deal of time with him. I knew when he was coming home and made a sbrisketmoked brisket, some steamed, mixed vegetables and mashed potatoes. Shortly after he got home (as in hours), I took it to his house. His wife said he was upstairs resting and didn’t think he was very hungry. I told her he would be eventually and she should enjoy a little “down” time and have dinner anyway. We talked later and she told me she went up and asked him if he wanted to eat and he said no. She went back downstairs to make herself a little dinner. She had the brisket in the microwave to reheat it and as she took it out, her husband appeared and said it smelled so good, he would try some. Sometimes, people may not think they want to eat but if the food is ready and waiting, they just might.

 

Other events that are food-appropriate are funerals and wakes. Some peopchickenle don’t immediately think of food in these situations, and maybe its my upbringing, but I do. Where I grew up, when news of a death reached my house, Mom went to the kitchen to cook for the family and Dad got the car washed for the funeral. In my old neighborhood, that’s just the way it went. The grieving family probably wasn’t going to cook and there may be relatives and friends in from out of town. They will probably be gathering somewhere. And, as my grandfather used to say, “They’re going to want to eat sooner or later.” If the weather is cool, soup is a good bet. No time for soup? How about a roasted chicken?

 

 

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New neighbors moving into the neighborhood? Nothing says ‘Welcome’ like food.And I’m not talking about a cake or pie, although a cheesecake might not be bad. When I moved into my house, my neighbor brought over something Italian. I can’t remember what, exactly. It was 30 years ago. But I remember I thought it was a very nice, warm, welcoming gesture and it was good. Turns out, her family owned an Italian restaurant. I have tried to continue the tradition. I have missed a few but, when ever I can, I take something to a new neighbor. Usually, its fried chicken. Once, a new neighbor caught me by surprise and I didn’t have time to cook. I bought a bucket of chicken with fixins and took it over. It was raining and she was just getting ready to leave to return the rental truck. She told me later that that was the best fried chicken she ever had.

 

The point to all of this is, if there’s an event of any kind, food is appropriate. Or, to think of it another way, if there’s a greeting card for it, food is appropriate. It doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate, it just needs to come from the heart and say, “I’m thinking about you and I care about you.” Try it. You won’t be disappointed. And, let me know how it turned out. Maybe some of your friends will begin referring to you a “meals on wheels”, like some of my friends.

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