Cooking is the currency of love

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“People who love to eat are always the best people.”

Julia Child wrote that in a letter to her friend, Avis DeVoto, in early 1953. Julia is known around the world for her love of food — especially butter — and many people use her quotes about not liking diets, cakes or quotes on how she found cooking to show their own love of food. But this particular quote is my favorite because it also combines Julia’s great love for people.

In the various memoirs written about her life, Julia is constantly prepping for dinner parties. She loved to cook for other people, particularly for her husband Paul Child. Alex Prud’homme, the Childs’ great-nephew, wrote in “The French Chef in America: Julia Child’s Second Act” that people were always knocking at the Childs’ door of their Boston home for dinner.

I have been so lucky in my own friendships.

In my last few years of college at MSU Denver I met my boyfriend, Will, and eventually several of his friends. In 2013, Will and I joined in on our friends’ family dinner tradition. One of us would host and everyone would bring a dish. On Sunday nights we’d catch up on life over plates of homemade noodles, tikka masala, guacamole, whatever the theme was for that day.

Food tastes better when it’s shared with friends. To me, cheesy as it sounds, cooking is the currency of love.

Over the years, friends have moved away, new friends have joined and, although we don’t get together to cook every week any more, we still make sure to meet up every once in a while over a homemade meal.

My love of cooking for people goes back to childhood family holidays.

We’d pack up the car and head to my grandparents’ house in Westminster. Food would sit on the kitchen counters, buffet style, as my pile of cousins, siblings, aunts and uncles filed through with plates of turkey and mashed potatoes. The holidays were when my family would get together and laugh over our meal, enjoy each other’s company and, depending on the day, cheer on the Broncos or the Avalanche.

As an adult, I now bring my own dish to the table at family meals. I love planning for my family’s various events — a raspberry pie for the whole family because it’s my grandpa’s favorite, potatoes at my dad’s because he doesn’t like vegetables, adventurous international foods with my mom, and so on.

But like Julia, my favorite person to cook for is my partner in crime. For the past seven years, Will and I have spent time huddled in kitchens across the state, sampling soups and sauces. Will’s specialty is guacamole or hot wings, mine is Alfredo or carbonara with homemade noodles.

We are our own worst critics, and Will nearly always finds something wrong with the dishes he makes. But despite Will’s pickiness about his cooking, there are few people with whom I would rather share a kitchen.

Sharing a meal brings warmth to friendships. For me, it starts with a good cookbook: What should I make? What will people like best?

Over the years I have collected cookbooks with cuisine from around the world, including “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia, with her co-authors and friends, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck. My favorite pages are usually earmarked or stained with flour and oil.

The recipes don’t have to be complicated. The presentation doesn’t need to be on par with the finest restaurants in the world. Julia spent the later years of her life making cooking accessible to everyone, assuring viewers of “The French Chef” that it was OK to break a few eggs in the kitchen.

It will all turn out fine in the end.

Bon appetit.

Kailyn Lamb is the editor of Colorado Community Media’s two monthly Denver newspapers. She can be reached at klamb@coloradocommunitymedia.com

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