Why does making (and eating) food make me so happy?
Well, my daughter turned 10 today. She wanted cheesecake for her birthday instead of the traditional birthday cake (much to the chagrin of my brother-in-law, who loves the cakes my wife makes). Instead of going out and buying one, I suggested we make one. I suggested that we make mini marbled cheesecakes. She was very excited about that idea. My daughter is a person who loves to spend time with others; it’s how she shows love. If she loves you, she’ll just want to hang around and do stuff with you. Gifts are good, but not as good as time. So we made what you see above.
The thing is, as soon as I bit into one of the first we refrigerated, after all the time spent mixing, creaming, spooning, melting and baking, I felt an overwhelming sense of calm and subdued joy. I love the work that goes into food, but I feel in a way that I do not for anything else when I bite into a good, tiny cheesecake. Or when I bite into a piece of home-made flat bread I’ve just finished cooking on the barbecue. Or when I bite into a perfectly roasted potato (thanks, Jamie Oliver). I worry sometimes that I have an addiction to food, but I don’t know if that’s it. I get no joy out of eating something bought in a store, already cooked or baked or manufactured.
I think it’s the sense that “I made that, and it’s delicious” and I wonder if people in bygone eras felt that sense of satisfaction. Is it just that so much of our food is already made for us that we feel such great, ego-boosting happiness when we make something ourselves? Did my grandma, who made everything from scratch except the Jif Peanut Butter and Pringles that adorned her cupboards, ever think “I made that!” I do, and maybe, now that I’ve thought about it more, it’s a little sadness that goes with my happiness. Hmm…