I’ve mentioned before that I’m a baker at heart, not a cook. My favorite things in the kitchen are caught up in the baking side of things: the feel of warm naan dough in my hands, Pippin and Scout’s help rolling molasses spice cookies in Demerara sugar.
But increasingly people I love can’t eat the things I love to make, and I find myself feeling guilty serving them even to people in the clear. Do we ever really need brownies?
Those loved ones are gracious, of course. (Unlike the classmate who rolled his eyes and asked that he not be distracted during an exam by the smell of the FREAKING DELICIOUS muffins I’d brought in. This was 2010. I’m not still offended.) Many of them are off gluten or dairy or carbs on doctor’s orders. And my sister is a rare unicorn who just doesn’t love sweets, excepting our mother’s chocolate chip pecan pie.
I get that, I do. I recognize Roo could have been constructed out of many fewer cookies and almost no ciabatta. I could and maybe should be a mom who fixes her kids almond butter energy balls instead of cinnamon rolls.
Chapman argues there are no bad foods, outside legitimate allergies and doctor-mandated diets. Moderation is a thing, but so is celebration. Writing about feast treats, Chapman notes: “God works through these tasty treats to help children and adults alike perceive just how special these holy days are.”
She writes, “Food signifies love, allowing us to show others how much we care for them. The Eucharist is Love. It’s God’s complete gift of himself to us.” She stresses food is a symbol of the Eucharist—and not the other way around. When I feed the people I love, I am, in some sense, imitating Christ—whether I’m whipping up indulgent brownies or healthful split pea curry. There’s nourishment in both, whether spiritual or nutritional.
And I’ve quoted this elsewhere, but I just love this passage from The Awakening of Miss Prim:
The range suggested an idyllic childhood. A childhood rich with the scent of freshly baked bread, of sweet sugary fritters, chocolate cake, biscuits, and doughnuts. The kind of childhood she herself had not had but which, in this somewhat chaotic house, she had to admit was a daily reality.
My house — as yet unrestricted by anything but my children’s imaginations — can feature the foods I love to make, and in the meantime, I can fiddle with keto fat bomb recipes and gallbladder diet-approved dinners, enjoying the challenge and trying new things as I love on my friends. I can be careful not to pressure people to eat the things they shouldn’t, but at least every once in awhile, there will always be a place on the table for brownies.