A few years ago, I blogged about the bonding power of mangoes. When I think of mangoes, I think only of making my specialty, which is mango salsa. (Check out the post for the recipe.) Over the years, and I mean years, as I have been making this salsa for well over a decade that might even be creeping into two, I have tried to introduce this salsa to my dearest friends and family. Frankly, most of them don't get it. In other words, that means that the food I am known for with my best friends has been a complete and utter flop to many, many other people.
Regardless of how picky people can be, the one thing I know is that food brings people together. Furthermore, the more of a tradition the food it, the more it seems to bond. I was reminded of that over the holiday weekend while visiting friends. Miss June, my best friend's elderly yet spunky mother, just had to make her 15-minute chocolate cake. I think there has always been a 15-minute chocolate cake there when I've come to visit, but there was also a family event, so seriously she had no choice but to make the delicious chocolate cake.
I thought of asking for her recipe, which I am sure she would share with me, but it just wouldn't be the same, would it? It's not necessarily the cake itself. It's much more than that. I could say that it's about Miss June and the love she puts into it. I think it might be more about Miss June and the love we have for her. But it might also be the occasions for which she makes the cake. It could be a combination.
Around my hallway at work, I've become known for something other than mango salsa. I make brownies. These brownies are hardly anything special. I use brownie mix that I buy when it's on sale, and half the time I use applesauce instead of oil, so they are more cake-like than chewy. If I have them, I add chocolate chips, and I always add cinnamon. (Miss June adds cinnamon to her cake, too. Try it!) Sometimes it's Brownie Wednesday and sometimes it's Brownie Thursday, but whatever day it is, I'm a hero. I find joy in bringing a few moments of joy during a hectic week, and my colleagues appreciate a few moments to sit back and enjoy something special between lesson plans and grading.
Sometimes the brownies are shared in the back room, but usually they are wrapped in a napkin and carried out to be eaten alone in peace. Yet, somehow, the brownies still bind us together. Strange, isn't it?
What foods bind you with your friends and family?