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.
Tickled Red says
Oh how sweet! I can just imagine how relieved she must have felt to let go of the hostess role for an evening. It truly is the simple things in life that matter the most. What lovely friends you are 🙂 Great choice by the way, it’s on my top five to try.
Providing food for people who are celebrating, in crisis, or for no reason at all is a great thing! I once received an unexpected surprise when a friend provided a take-away meal from my favorite cuban restaurant on my birthday – after a long day of teaching. I try to pay it forward every chance I get. I loved your story of homemade kindness!
SMITH BITES says
You are a good friend. And that’s what I love about you – all of you. This to me, is the best wedding present anyone could ever get – time. Time to take a deep breath, time to relax and time to enjoy a moment with great friends!
I agree with Cathy — “I loved your story of homemade kindness.” I have been on the receiving end of homemade kindness and the relief of a lovely meal without lifting a finger is a rare gift. So many times I have good intentions, but trying to put together a main dish, a couple sides and a dessert can be overwhelming, but a one-dish meal is a perfect idea. Thanks for the challenge, Maggy. A friend in need has come to mind so I’m giving her a call!
Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday says
Aww you’re an awesome friend! I’m willing for you to offer to cook for me too 😉
Torrie @ a place to share... says
I have done this before, but only once… and you are absolutely right about the benefit and gift of allowing a friend or family member to be a guest within their own home for a night.
It’s a simple challenge, yet rarely put into action.
I will take your advice and offer to cook for a friend in need. Thank you for challenging us!
What a great idea. I only think of helping out with a meal when friends are sick or have a newborn but what a fabulous time to celebrate and share your gift of cooking. AND what a tasty recipe. I’ve been eyeing that one since first picking up your mom’s new book. Yum!
I love that you did this. And I love even more that we learned this from Mom.
She was always cooking meals, artfully arranging them, and delivering them to people who were sick, who just had surgery, who had just lost a loved one. I remember her putting together those meals and thinking…come on! why don’t we get dinner that good! HA!
I love that you took this one step further and actually packed up your stuff and went to them–so you brought not only a meal, but your warming, wonderful presence.
I remember what the days before your wedding were like–a blur! So, I hope they enjoyed the moment to relax, slow down, and remember.