The Tampa Tribune’s food writer since 2005, Jeff Houck covers the way people live through their food. He also hosts the Table Conversations food podcast and believes that everything crunchy is good.
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‘Sharing Food Is Age Old’ [A Compassionate Reader Responds]
Posted Jan 14, 2013 by Jeff Houck
Updated Jan 14, 2013 at 05:58 PM
Last weekend, I wrote a column about honoring my father Charlie’s death in November by going in search of the food that he loved.
In the column, I wrote:
For years, I have been fascinated by the way people use food to comfort each other when a loved one dies.
After Dad died, I had images of friends dropping by with aluminum-foil-draped casserole dishes. Copious amounts of lasagna or macaroni and cheese. A meatloaf that could feed a battalion. Maybe some stew.
That didn’t happen for me. I’m not sure that it does for anyone anymore. It’s not that people don’t care. They’re busy with their own lives. People barely make time to cook for themselves, much less for others. It hasn’t crossed my mind to do it for friends who have lost loved ones.
Not wanting to rely on Crown Royal to honor his memory, I decided to console myself by enjoying the flavors of my father.
The column brought a flood of responses from readers, all of which have been lovely, compassionate and heartfelt. But perhaps none has touched me as much as what reader Mary Ann Jorgenen of Tampa did today. She showed up at the newsroom with a whole roasted chicken, vegetables and a sheet cake.
In with the cardboard box she used to carry the dishes, Mary Ann included a copy of my column and a note.
Your Sunday Tampa Tribune article about your dad touched me. The passing of our parents, at any age, is sad.
Please accept this comfort meal for your family. People care in different ways, but sharing food is age-old. This is not fancy or prize-winning recipe but care and prayers for your family are the main ingredients.
One of your readers,
Mary Ann Jorgensen
I had to share this here, primarily because I lack the capacity to absorb this much beauty at one time. I’m blessed to have this job and to know the people who read what I write. It has always been my contention that people who cook are the finest people anywhere.
“Sharing food is age old.” Indeed.