Cooking and hospitality are quickly becoming a lost art. There are fewer and fewer Titus 2 Women available to help teach the younger women. Many women are so busy with work and extra activities that no one is home anymore. A quick meal at MacDonald’s is the closest to home cooking that many families get.
Being born and raised in the South, cooking and food was an important part of our life. From as far back as I can remember feeding others was what was expected for every occasion. No matter what was happening feeding the masses of people was expected and encouraged. Now granted we have often taken that to an extreme with loss of health the result, but it is not all wrong.
In my area when there is a death in a family after the funeral the local church or a neighboring church will provide a full “pot-luck” or “Providence” meal for the grieving family and friends at the church. The ladies of the church cook, serve, and clean up for the grieving family while they are able to talk and grieve together.
Weddings are ended with a reception of either finger foods or even full course meals. Normally the wedding party has had a meal together the night before the wedding. Previously these were all foods hand prepared by the family and friends, yet increasingly they are catered events as more and more people are unable and unwilling to cook.
The birth of a baby typically brings lots of meals to the new mom. My baby shower for my fourth baby was a diaper and wipes shower. Everyone also brought me a frozen meal, either casseroles, frozen desserts, or even individually frozen sandwiches. This was very helpful because I knew what food I had and could plan my meal schedule accordingly.
I can remember my grandmothers, who always practiced hospitality, feeding everyone who crossed their doorstep, or at least trying to. I’m even taking about the surprise guest! They had not practiced hospitality if you went away without a full stomach, a hug and a refreshed spirit. If you particularly enjoyed a certain meal, you might find that meal lovingly prepared for you each time you were expected.
There were many, many opportunities for “dinner on the grounds”, “pot-lucks” or “Providence” meals. I remember my grandmother cooking for hours the night before the items that could be cooked ahead. Then she would get up at the early hours of the morning and cook more food. This was not a prepare a covered dish to carry to church kind of thing. This was prepare a bountiful full meal to carry. Enough to feed several families because no one was to leave hungry. There was always so much food that a visitor never felt bad about staying without having brought food.
There was much more to this hospitality than just cooking. Remember often they counted on their own homegrown vegetables, meats, and milk. So preparing for hospitality started months ahead of time when they planned out crops. They had to plant enough for them and for the many other mouths that might feed in the upcoming year. Then there were weeks of canning, freezing, shucking, cutting, shelling, drying, etc. All so, they can feed their families and show hospitality to others.
Romans 12:13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. ESV
1 Timothy 5:9-10
9 Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband,
10 and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. ESV
Hebrews 13:2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. ESV
1 Peter 4:9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. ESV
Christianity contributes a distinctive understanding of the importance of food and, by extension, the importance of cooking and hospitality. We understand that human beings are made to require food for sustenance. Our need for food is a reminder of our finitude. The food in our fields and all in our tables is a reminder of God’s loving provision for us. The Bible dignifies the loving preparation of food as one of the distinctive gifts of women. While cooking is not limited to women, throughout human history wives and mothers, sisters and daughters, have shown their love for and commitment to their loved ones through the careful preparation and celebration of food. When this is lost, something more than culinary knowledge is lost.