The power of food
We were in Brisbane last weekend for a friend’s party. I almost cancelled going as I thought that it might have been in bad taste to go for a party when so many people’s lives were devastated by the floods…and I also expected that most things might still be underwater, roads floating away, etc, etc. But that was not the case at all. In fact in all the places I saw in Brisbane, there was no evidence of there having been a flood at all. Andrew was there earlier in the week for some work meetings. One of the meetings he had was with a company whose office went under water. When he spoke to them on the Friday before, they were loading up the canoe with essential stuff! Less than a week later he was in their office and they had wall panels replaced (but still unpainted), and no other sign of having gone diving. And that was the story we heard pretty consistently from most people. (Not to detract from the people in more remote areas of Queensland who are probably still struggling to clean up etc). I wanted to drive around the streets to find some visual reminder of the floods. My mind would not compute the difference between the photos I had seen just a week before on the news, and those sent to me by friends and colleagues – Brisbane under water, pontoons and more floating down rivers that once were streets, etc.
The reason for this? The armies of volunteers that came from far and wide to help people clean up their houses and properties. Watching Anthony Bourdain’s show on New Orleans the other night made me realise how lucky we are to have such a strong sense of community spirit here in Australia. Those images New Orleans still struggling to rebuild so many years after Katrina are really quite shocking and shameful I think.
Just about everyone we spoke to had gone to help friends or strangers with the clean up. A funny thread through all the comments was the stories about the food. Apparently there was tons of food on offer as people kept arriving/driving around sharing food they had made. It got to the point where the volunteers were telling each other about the “fantastic stir fry on the next street”; or “the best ever bacon and egg pies a few streets down”; etc. Since so many people lost power for a few days, there was a huge cooking effort to take food to people who were flood affected. That it also helped use up everything in their freezers was a bonus I am sure. Isn’t it lovely to see that sense of community expressed through the sharing of food (as well as through physical work)?
It caused me to reflect on how food unites us through so much more than the usual family gatherings, celebrations, community festivals and more. Even our little blog community. I have met almost none of you yet I feel I know so much about you as you share your stories of food. I feel so much happiness on seeing photos of Celia’s blossoming garden with abundant produce; Brydie’s sourdough experiments with starter she made herself; Jo baking treats for her lucky dog; Bec’s matter-of-fact approach to sticking to her gluten-free diet and still cooking amazing things; Anna’s patient step-by-step instructions in her recipes; Sarah’s family feasts that are never compromised by a lack of a kitchen; Kalyan’s quests for great food in the streets of Mumbai; and more. To all of you that I have grown to know and feel as kindred spirits – the blogs I comment on and the blogs I lurk around but rarely comment – thanks for sharing!
The photo above? – Taken in a fancy food market in Brisbane in the fresh veg section. How sweet/clever to be selling edible flowers for salads (I didn’t think marigolds would be edible though – do you know if they are?).