Over the weekend I baked a large carrot cake for my friend’s birthday. It was served at a party with lots of our friends, and our friends are nice people, so they congratulated me on how delicious and beautiful the cake was. My outward response was, “Thanks!” but inside I thought, “Well I guess they didn’t notice the lumps in the icing. Or that the cake had cracked apart on the inside. Or that a corner of the cake had fallen off and had been patched together again with icing and luck.” They obviously didn’t notice my vacant stare as I had this inner monologue.
I think we don’t give each other enough credit for being kind-hearted souls that want to support and wish each other well.
I also think we don’t give ourselves enough credit.
Many years ago I made a cake of similar size (chocolate sponge, white chocolate icing) for a friend’s grandma’s 80th birthday. She asked me to make it because she thought I’d have fun doing it. When she saw I was so upset at how the cake wasn’t holding together and that there were crumbs in the icing, she said quietly, “I thought this was supposed to be fun.”
Her gentle reminder brought it all home for me, and I realized how awfully dramatic I had been about the whole matter. It is supposed to be fun – or at the very least, not terrible and tragic. Making food for others is one of the best ways to show you care, and eating is one of life’s greatest joys. (I secretly believe that those people who just pick at their food and say blankly, “Oh I’m full” go home and decadently dip apple slices right into the peanut butter jar and chase it with vanilla ice cream and chocolate cookies). However, being human, things don’t always turn out (it gets a little burnt, it’s too soft, too thick, whatever), so what you make doesn’t always look like it belongs on the cover of a magazine. But I think that’s okay, because the point was to say, “Hey, I like you enough to make you a cake/cookies/stew/falafel. Let’s continue to like eachother.” And the person receiving it will say, “I’m hungry, so ditto” or something like that. They won’t see the imperfections, they will see the effort and love. And then you should tell yourself, “I made an effort, I’m an all right human being.” And then divvy out some portions of what you made so you can enjoy it together.
So, as MFK Fisher says, “Serve it forth.” And heap on the love.