It’s been a long time since I cooked for a friend in need. But this week the opportunity presented itself. Our good friends Ariel and Jonathan are getting married next weekend. Most of us have been there. Two weeks before a wedding and you’re doing more to prepare than you did in the previous eleven months! On top of that, Jonathan is Irish and his family wanted to come and be with them for the two weeks preceding the wedding. I know a little about planning an international wedding (my husband is English), and the extra layer of stress and work that adds.
Andy and I had been planning to get together with Ariel and Jonathan to cook a meal before all the wedding chaos got started, but of course that just didn’t happen and Jonathan’s family had arrived. I assumed they were probably having pre-wedding, family celebrations, but I thought I should check. So I asked if they would like me to cook a meal for them. They gave a quick and enthusiastic yes. “But” Ariel said, “you can’t cook anything weird. They only like simple foods like meat and veg.” (I love that we are good enough friends that she could say that plainly.)
I spent a few days worrying (I haven’t cooked for a crowd in a while) and then I spent another few days wringing my hands about what to cook for seven people. Fortunately, I got my freshly printed copy of Mom’s new book, Perfect One Dish Dinners, in the nick of time. I mulled over a few ideas before settling on her Coq au Vin Blanc, a Spring-ed up version of the classic.
So the night arrives. Andy and I hop in a cab with three bags of food, two Le Creuset Dutch Ovens and my favorite Anthropologie apron and head over to their apartment. We meet, we hug, we toast the soon-to-be newlyweds and I get to work in the kitchen. Ariel and Jonathan keep asking, “What can we do? Can we help?” To which I keep replying, “Nope, I’m just fine. Don’t need any help. Do what you need to do.”
Jonathan relaxed, talked with his family and enjoyed a glass of wine while Ariel caught up on wedding-related email and worked on the program for the ceremony. And I realized then: “Wow, they really need this.” For someone to come be the hostess so that you can just be a guest in your home for a night during a slightly stressful time. That’s nice. Honestly, I felt good – that I was able to help out my friends. And they felt good, that they could just focus on what needed their attention and sit down to a home-cooked meal.
Think for a moment. Is there someone in your life who could use a meal? Pick up the phone, write them an e-mail, and offer to cook for them. Who knows? One day someone may return the favor when you need it most.