31 Days to Hospitality::Day 21 On Feeding People Well

This is day 20 in a 31 day series on hospitality. Start from the beginning here.

“Eating with the fullest pleasure is perhaps the profoundest enactment of our connection with the world.  In this pleasure, we experience and celebrate our dependence and our gratitude, for we are living from mystery, from creatures we did not make and powers we cannot comprehend.”

The above quote is from Wendell Berry’s book, The Unsettling of America,  and I highly recommend it.

We, as Americans, have lost the art of eating well.   And we, as moms, have lost the art of feeding people well.  We belittle this task because it’s seems so menial and repetitive.  Or we say to ourselves, “I’m just not a good cook.”   I used to say the same thing.  And then it dawned on me that these little people I live with are gonna want to eat everyday.  And not just everyday, but several times a day.  This need for us all to eat is not going anywhere.   So I taught myself to cook.  I watched Foodtv and cooking videos and read cookbooks and practiced a lot.

Why?  Because I really care about these people that I live with everyday and I want to feed them well.  We seem to have left the feeding up to the ‘experts’ and we’ve become so distanced from actual food that grows in the ground that we wouldn’t recognize good food even if we saw it.   Our prepackaged, precooked,  over processed food has led to a similar superficial  lifestyle.  Ease of preparation and speed have become our idols.  We have forgotten that some things take time, as well they should.  Food reminds us that for some things in life, we have to slow down.  We need to sit.  To savor.  To enjoy.

And it’s not just the quality of the food that suffers.

We’ve left the mystery and the sanctity of the table for a lifestyle of running.

But the table has always been a place of rest and soul nourishment.

“The table is the place where you connect and belong.  It is a place where the past remains alive in the memory of the very old, and future sparkles with possibility.  It is enchanted.  We lean close together, we share a glass, we tell a story.  Through this simple human relating, the universe feels it is right again.”

My journey to liturgical christianity has taught me more of this than anything else.  The climax of the liturgical service is the meal.  Everything builds to communion, the Lord’s supper.   For it is here that Christ feeds us His very body and blood for forgiveness and salvation.  That life that He won for us on the cross is precious and sacred.  And how did He choose to deliver it to us?  In a meal.  In simple bread and wine.  In the waters of baptism.  He chose menial, everyday items to bring us Himself.   It speaks so powerfully  of the mystery of this communion, of eating together.

We are not just filling our bodies when we sit together and eat.   This is our little communion, if you will.   We are learning to live from the profound mysteries of life, to be thankful for this food and to cherish those with whom we share it.  I would even venture to say that there is no way to love someone more than to feed them well.  Food is powerful and full of mystery and as we prepare a table for others, we are making a place for them in our hearts.

There is a certain mixture of reverence and joy as we break bread together.

We do it in gratitude,  to our Father who provides our daily bread and to the hands who have cared enough for us to grow it and  prepare it.  And if we have failed in this blessed task (as we do daily) then let us come to our Father, who lavishes forgiveness and ask Him to help us see the meal in a new light—to learn to cherish it as He cherishes it and to live in gratitude for this good gift from heaven.

William Carlos Williams said of the meaning of food:

        There is nothing to eat,

              seek it where you will,

                            but the body of the Lord.

The blessed plants

                  and the sea, yield it

                                           to the imagination


p.s.  I love this segment on Issues,etc titled This is my Body and this one In Remembrance of Me on the Lord’s Supper.

p.p.s.  There are times for all our use when we need to eat on the fly.  Trust me, I do it more often than I’d like.  I drove through Chick-fil-A last week and as I left there, I had to stop at their trash and throw out the McDonald’s from breakfast.  The irony is not lost on me.  Have mercy!   But I think any effort we can make to hallow our table fellowship, to make it special, to cook our own food, is so worth it.  It teaches our kids that we think this is so important that we are willing to sacrifice our time to do it.  We’ll talk more this week about how to take practical steps toward this goal.  This is meant to inspire, not to incite guilt.  There are seasons in our lives when this is just not possible, trust me, I know.  Which is why it’s important to feed others when you can.  You’ll need them to feed you at some point and you’ll be so thankful that someone took the time and effort to love you like that.  xoxo

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  • Lisa says:

    Beautifully written Edie! I will be back several times today to reread this. My husband and I are empty nesters now and it is so easy not to cook and I miss it! Needed to read this today!!! Thanks! :)

  • Kim says:


    I’m so enjoying this series! I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to use this post and share it with my high school Culinary class that I teach. I so want them to realize that food is much more than what we put in our bodies. Blessings friend!

  • Southern Gal says:

    My husband’s grandmother and my grandmother always, always cooked great homemade meals and then we all gathered around the table to enjoy the company. Their generation cooked all three meals every single day without a second thought. Since they died six years ago we’ve missed out on those times with family on a regular basis.I feel the nudging to create this table not just for extended family, but friends, too. Your nudging can’t be ignored. ;)

    Last night was the first night in many that I sat down with my two boys and my husband to eat together. The oldest is a senior in college and is working on senior projects, so it’s usually just the three of us. I didn’t realize how much I missed that until last night. He even commented that he missed it. Made my heart melt.

  • Michelle says:

    What a nice post. I think of this often and really look at it as a lost art. There is so much to be said about families who stay together eat together. Father Patalinghug (sp?) has a great book about this called Grace Before Meals. As the mother of 5 kids, I make dinner a priority and we make sure to sit down together at least 5 nights a week and all shuts down on Sundays. We have to make it a priority in order for it to work. 4 of my kids are boys and we don’t let them play club sports because of meal time and how it affects the family relationships. My kids are not suffering and they realize how important family life is.
    I love these hospitality posts and have really been reflecting on my own efforts with hospitality. I think I am a misplace southerner at heart here in Denver!!

  • Awesome encouragement! And I appreciate your drive-through honesty. haha xoxo

    I remember reading a long time ago about French women and how much they seem to benefit from eating well rather than eating less. (YES okay it was a beauty/fitness bit…LOL) But culturally, I agree. Kingsolver has similar messages as Berry, I think.

    We had a family dinner for my Dad last week and I noticed we always sit in the same positions, even at my adult home, and it brought back so many happy memories form childhood. Love slow meals and slow recipes… Great post Edie! Thank you.

  • Amy says:

    Great post!!! We as American have list the art of cooking, baking and warring well. Which does impact the family on a lot of different levels! Great post!!!!

  • Celeste says:

    I think this has been my favorite post, although I’ve thought that on past posts as well. I’ll have to reread this series from time to time to stay motivated to love others like I should. I always feel overwhelmed and full of excuses prior to sharing my home and meals with others but when the people actually arrive I can’t think of much that I love to do more than this. Shedding a holier light on hospitality and bathing it in prayer is where I always have to go to have the right attitude because I tend to be very “me” centered. Thanks for the inspiration (as always!)

  • Ruth says:

    Beautifully written. This is something that I have learned from my mom. She always has and still does make meals and mealtimes a priority. She has opened her home and fed so many people. There is never a time you go there and she doesn’t have something to serve. Most amazing is she does this and has always worked full time.
    This is something that I have been trying to emulate in my own home. I will be printing this post and hanging it in my kitchen as a reminder.

  • Kelly says:

    Wonderful post, Edie, and very convicting, that feeding our families well is sacrificial, but worthwhile. I think often in today’s world, we equate time consuming or “not our thing” as an excuse to short cut, just because short cuts are so readily available. Love this reminder that we are called to love our families, not just in the ways we naturally are drawn to. (I actually do love cooking, but like all moms, can sometimes be tired of the tedium of it…)

  • Julie Ann says:

    Hi Edie. This is another great post. Great words of wisdom. Great ways to show your family and loved ones you truly are selfless and care.

  • This is wonderful. As a full-time working mom with a toddler and a husband, I needed this.

  • Christi says:

    Edie – I love this series on hospitality. Love! Gentle reminders of what is already written on my heart and mind, said so eloquently. Yesterday was my Mom’s birthday. 10 months and 1 day since she unexpectedly passed away last December. One of the many days I’ve dreaded this year. It turned out to be a quiet and peaceful day, remembering all the little things she did daily to make her love known. So last night, I tied on my apron, turned on Mumford & Sons, and headed to the kitchen to do one of the things she taught me well. Cook. More than just teaching the measurements and techniques, she showed me the joy that comes from cooking for others. To serve them. To serve Him. To Cook. Comfort food. Meatloaf, truffle mashed potatoes and shallots green beans. All while a loaf of pumpkin spice bread baked. For the first time in 10 months, the universe did feel right.

    Thank you for the beautiful posts, Edie. You bless me everyday.

  • Laura says:

    this is so great. as a young mom, i can be so aware of my limitations in this area due to the season we’re in….but i can see where i’m creating bad habits at the same time. i want to give myself grace, but cultivate this great art and make our dinner table more of a ‘sacred’ priority. thanks for your words!

  • courtney says:

    i love this so much that i could almost cry. i am a young mama and TRY so hard to feed my little girl well and teach her great eating habits. it was a rule that we all sat down at the dinner table together when i was growing up and i want her to have those dinner table experiences. it is our time of family fellowship, recapping our day, to listen to one another and share together. that precious time at the dinner table cannot be replaced.
    thank you for sharing, edie! from one tennessee gal to another!

  • Cooking and baking for my family brings me so much joy and they LOVE a good meal. I have meat issues, so that is kind of a problem. It keeps me out of the kitchen more than it should. This morning on the way to school I told Jaxon about how you southerners keep bacon fat on hand at all times. He loves that and said I should do it too….”we deserve a little splurge now and then” were his words. :) I was a full on vegetarian for 7+ years, I’m doing better though, I’ll eat chicken, turkey, fish and eggs now…I just really don’t like to cook it. I have to just put it out of my mind entirely. If I didn’t have a family to cook for I’d go back to my veggie ways. Love this post Edie, and all the others. I’m trying to get caught up…lifes been busy. I still need to get back to you on the post for LIGG.

  • Jeana says:

    Good grief I’m loving this series. Like a good book, I’ll be sad for it to end. I had to reevaluate this a few months ago. I kept asking myself why I seemed shocked that our boys wanted to be fed so much haha. It is so easy to grab something, it it dawned on me that that was no the best way I could serve them and not honoring my husband by spending our money so carelessly. I’ve gone from eating out 3- 4 times a week to 1. Im cooking 3 meals almost daily like my grandma used to and I’m loving it more than I ever thought I would! We truly enjoy the 1 nice meal we eat out as well! There are definitely seasons in life that make less doable though, I understand that as well.

    PS I’ve been listening to issues etc since I found your blog and love it so much. Thank you for sharing!

  • What a wonderful post! Since moving away from our family 5 months ago, we’ve been trying so hard to make real, good friends. What works best? Inviting people into our home and feeding them. It has been such a facilitator of friendship and fellowship! One other thing that I’ve noticed is a couple of our new friends are tight on money, and they’ve mentioned that they don’t eat out to save money feeding their familiy. I don’t think we’d get together as often if we went out to eat every time we wanted to get together. Another thing, I’m not sure about you, but I find that the company lingers longer when the meal is in our home than if we’re out at a restaurant. Thanks for the post(s)!! What a great series!

  • Lora Ernest says:

    Hi Edie, You have inspired me in so many ways with this series. Thank you for taking the time! We have always been big on eating dinner as a family. We each talk about our day. There has been alot of laughter around our table. Our oldest son is 17 and brought a friend home for dinner and when she found out we would be eating dinner at the table as a family, she told my son that was weird. She told him that at her house they eat whatever they want when they want (which is not at the same time) and usually eat it in front of the TV. This broke my heart.

  • Claire says:

    This is such a beautiful post (as always). In my recent Day 15 post about getting our dining room in order I wrote about wanting to make sure we started sitting down as a family for dinner. Oh we feed ‘em, alright! It just seems like we are all on a different schedule. I know the rest of this month for us is nuts getting through our 31 Days series of organizing. I cannot wait to start making this special time around the table with my family (“our little communion”) part of our routine.
    Thank you for this post. As Christi said above, “you bless me every day”.
    ~ Claire

  • Christie says:

    My husband and I always say the line from the movie “Ever After” — “I’m just here for the food.” We love food!

    Cooking became a hobby of mine when I didn’t have time for other creative hobbies. I suppose I could have made better use of my time, but maybe it was really about how tired I was with four little kids that it just seemed easier to make cooking a hobby since I was cooking everyday anyway! Then, some in my house have food allergies, so that made me research food and health. We read Joel Salatin’s books about healthy farms. We’ve even started a small cattle herd.

    I admit that I get tired of a messy kitchen and preparing most meals from scratch. Cold cereal and Trader Joe’s frozen pizzas are nice luxuries when I just need a break from it all.

  • Kathy says:

    I could not agree more! Every single word. So beautifully expressed. Thank you.

  • Lori B says:

    I enjoy baking, but I’ve never enjoyed cooking. Now that we’ve been homeschooling for a few years, I get overwhelmed at having to feed us three times a day. All they ever want to do is eat! However, I’ve been feeling convicted to learn how to cook. My kitchen mini-remodel has taken 2.5 weeks and counting. I’m dying to cook in my kitchen again and sick of eating out! Not to mention broke. Thank you for admitting that you had to learn to cook. At my age I felt I’d missed the boat, but you give me hope that I can learn. Now if I could just get my oven and the sink put in, I’d be in business…

    By the way, I love reading all your stuff, but the way you talk about the church, communion, baptism, etc. blesses me. I’m the other former-Evangelical-turned-Lutheran homeschooling mom in Tennessee and to hear another Southerner talk about these things in this way soothes my soul. Blessings to you and yours, because you sure enough bless me!

  • Sunni says:

    Love this post- I feel the same way about my liturgical conversion (Catholic) and about not just feeding but nourishing my family. It makes me sad when I hear people say they don’t have interest in recipes with more than 5 ingredients. Our society seems so focused on instant gratification and food is no exception.

  • velma says:

    I love this post. It reminds me of a post I did in my soup blog about the ritual of eating together, and a line ‘A tavola non s’invecchia’ : At the table one never grows old.
    I kinda fell behind in my reading of this series, so I Greatly appreciate the effort you have put out to get 31days completed.
    BTW my soup blog post is at

  • Diana Furey says:

    To be honest, this is the most difficult post for me to read. I don’t cook or bake very much. I don’t like to do it unless all of my family is coming in. We eat a lot of whole foods {fruits, vegetables, cereals, whole pasta and such} but I don’t make beautiful cakes, pies, corn chowders and all. I don’t know what to think about my lack of doing that as far as being a good mother, wife, and Nana. Is there much more to our relationship that my lack of cooking and baking doesn’t make a terrible dent in my positive role in their life? I believe so…but it is so convicting to read this because there is a big part of me that would love to create the beautiful baked items you’ve described.

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