A friend has a sorrow, you cook 'em up something. That's just the way it is.
If broken in body or spirit, what comfort is there, except in a beef stew with carrots and potatoes? Home-baked peanut butter cookies? Neighbors showing up at your door, refusing to stay but dropping by a little something for the freezer, so that you won't have to cook for a few days while you mend.
A casserole equals time. No one wants to think about putting on dinner when they are under a shadow, when gravity has set in particularly hard that day to weigh them down and make even the act of breathing just a bit more difficult. A casserole popped from freezer to oven is one less thing. And the quick comfort of being cared for by friends, neighbors, family.
And what comfort is there to give, except words, which you can't eat, and food, which you can? (Although, arguably, I've eaten my words a few times. It just wasn't very satisfying.)
Today was another day for cutting-board prayers, this time for my neighbors J & M and their kids. J had a heart procedure yesterday to remove two blockages, stunning us all. He's okay, thank God, so most of my prayers as I browned chicken and chopped onions were prayers of thanks.
So I gave many thanks and now a chicken provencal is bubbling in the pot. I'll take it by the house this evening.
...Of course, being a childless forty-one year-old woman, I didn't consider until half-way through the process that I'm cooking a dish that calls for 3 medium onions, 1 1/2 cups dry white wine and 16 cloves of garlic. For a household with a teen and a pre-teen.
Not a perfect comfort, but maybe if I sieve the sauce, the kids won't notice.
(A 2/3/11 note: I'm somewhat relieved to report that J&M are fine. It wasn't J, but J's father-in-law who was ill. And he's doing well now. ... and it wasn't 16 cloves, but 12. Which I eyeballed into 3 tablespoons of chopped garlic from a jar. ... So I'm lazy. You're surprised?)