19 April 2010

Food compulsion

I think I am developing a compulsion to feed people.

I'm pretty sure it hasn't always been this way for me, though maybe I am only aware of it now that I am thinking about food. When I am frustrated or worried or angry, I often bake (or clean, but that's a whole 'nother issue). When there is a family situation that is out of my hands and for which I cannot help, I want to feed people.

It is not the influence of my family as far as I can tell, because I don't ever remember my grandmothers or mother pushing food every time I had a bad day. No stereotypical Jewish mothers here; I think this compulsion is all mine.

Greek households, or at least the ones I have visited, will often push food onto you, but in a nice way. Their compulsion is to welcome people into their home and share one of the most basic yet intimate scenes of human society: breaking bread to share with fellow people in a sign of trust and companionship. With time, my fiance's grandmother's constant attempts to feed me, I know, are more than signs of welcome and are signs of caring and nurturing.

Maybe a new side of me is developing with age so that I feel a compulsion to care and nurture others as I prepare to care for my own children. I suppose at 26 I am well into the years that nature and evolution would have me reproducing and this could be another way to show my attractiveness to a mate. I'd like to think it's because I care for people and want to show my appreciation through something I know well, like food. If I had talents of painting or building or singing, it might be different, but I work with what I know. It's food or medieval history lectures and I think I have definitely chosen the more sociable compulsion.

In light of his birthday and a tough week with family issues, I gave into my compulsion and made my fiance a nice dinner. I roasted some carrots and potatoes, but the best part was the lightly grilled flank steak with a mushroom cream sauce. I wanted the sauce to not overpower the meat but add a little extra something to the meal.

I started by taking advantage of the dusk light and the beautiful chestnut mushrooms.

Aren't they gorgeous? I love mushrooms.

Then I sauteed some garlic, minced onion and lots of sliced mushrooms in butter.

I added a touch of water to the pan to deglaze, though you could easily use balsamic vinegar or red wine, and let the sauce simmer a bit to condense.

I then added the tiny bit of cream I had left in the fridge. I originally wanted this sauce to be creamier than it turned out, but it worked out so that the tablespoon or two of cream was just enough to make it have just a bit more oomph than just the mushrooms and juice on its own.

I sliced the flank steak and briefly placed the strips under the broiler/grill to cook and topped with the mushroom sauce.

Lovely, tasty and fulfills my feeding compulsion. Well, for today.


  1. This made me think of the origin of the word 'companion'. Did you know it meant something like 'with bread', sort of or 'bread mate'? It's a beautiful concept, isn't it?
    In Spanish, 'compañero' or 'compañera', has recently come to be used as in English 'partner', to name your life-companion, boyfriend, girlfriend or whichever denomination for unmarried cohabiting lovers. I like it.

  2. A nice socio-linguistic thought. I like feeding people, too, although I'm not necessarily feeling any maternal urges when I do so. I think it's just the most simple and honest way to connect with other people. Everyone likes eating, don't they?

    When I'm making the food, though, I'm already able to imagine the enjoyment it will give whoever is eating it. After all, "pleasure is found first in anticipation", as someone famous and French once said.