One of my fondest memories of my grandfather was his habit of complimenting my grandmother on EVERY dinner she cooked. The comment rarely strayed from “Nice meal, sweetheart.” but the intention was consistent. A little sweetness sprinkled on top of whatever was sitting on our plates.
Some weeks it seems that just getting everyone to the table, napkins in lap, and conversing civilly is cause for celebration. The food may be hit or miss. More important is the fact we four are sitting together for even a few minutes, checking in before dispersing again to homework, guitar lessons, evening meetings and the like. And when my husband offers one of his compliments, as he often does, I’m reminded even more that the hustle in the kitchen was all worth while. All the more reason I so enjoyed a passage found in The Tassajara Cookbook. Edward Espe Brown quotes Chinese Zen master Yueh-shan when writing of gratitude for cooks:
“Awkward in a hundred ways, clumsy in a thousand, still I go on.”