by Tara Davis

Sometimes people still surprise me.

Small gestures, thoughtful words, or just being decent.

A while back, my dog snapped his leash and went for a walkabout without me.  I spent an hour and a half trying to run him down, as he is old and losing his sight.  He should have been anything but elusive.  But he ran wide open, hound ears flailing in the breeze, smiling and laughing at me every time he successfully ducked away. Frustrated, I walked home to grab a better leash, and saw a missed call from an unfamiliar number.Someone had my dog!  Picked up near a major thoroughfare, he got to joyride with people who had been working in my area.

He still hasn’t filled me in on the full adventure, but when they brought him back, I did what every grateful person does.  I offered them a monetary reward, which they soundly refused. That did not sit well with me.

I MUST SHOW GRATITUDE.  So I offered the next best thing I had.  I gave them my business card and begged them to let me feed them when they were in the area again.  They accepted! Successful transfer of gratitude via sustenance.

Because people have to eat.  And most prefer to eat well.

Because food binds us together in its universal necessity, its comfort and intimacy, its artistry.

When was the first time you actively shared food with someone?

Maybe you split your sandwich with a schoolmate. Maybe you cooked for your family. Maybe you shoved mud pies in a neighborhood kid’s face.

It is inherent to desire a cohort when it comes to meals.  Because eating alone doesn’t feel natural. Because we learn from and about one another through the process of eating together. It allows us insights we otherwise aren’t given.

Witnessing what we choose to put into our bodies.  How we order and treat the wait staff.  How we hold our utensils, and pick the cucumber slices off our salads. How our tones fluctuate depending upon the plates-and people – in front of us. All while fueling ourselves for another axis spin.

I have rarely received a gift I appreciated more than the countless meals I have been fed.

Time spent with others is always the true gift.

Next time you have a thank you to issue, consider letting food help you along.  Get your hands dirty with someone specific in mind,  Make cookies. Have a cookout.  Call a professional to throw something together.  Choose to participate in the human experience.

Because it matters.

A couple of nice thank you recipes-

Chicken salad:  Boil 2 lbs chicken, cool and shred. Mix with 1/2 diced white onion, 1 shredded carrot, 1 tbsp minced garlic, 1/4 cup mustard of your choice, 1/2 cup greek yogurt and salt and pepper to taste.  Throw in a nice baguette or some whole grain crackers!

Oatmeal chocolate cookies: 1 cup each softened butter, white sugar and brown sugar, 1 tsp each baking soda vanilla extract, cinnamon and salt, 2 cups flour, 3 cups oats. Mix all thoroughly, then stir in 3/4 cup chocolate chips.  Form into balls, place on butter sheet tray and press lightly.  Bake on 350 degrees 8-10 minutes.