Fights in my household don’t end with an apology, they end with my mom sliding me a plate of cut fruits to signal a truce. She may not verbally tell me that she loves me every single day but she does ask me if I’ve eaten or if I’m hungry every couple of hours, which is practically the same thing. In his book The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman outlines five general ways that people express love— words of affirmation, quality time, receiving or giving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. For a mother, there’s a sixth one— food.
Ethnic parents cutting up fruit and bringing it to their kids without being asked has got to be one of the purest gestures of love ever
— trasha (@super_smasha) December 6, 2018
Whether it was waking up extra early to pack lunch for me when I went to school, making a midnight snack as I crammed for an exam, knowing when I’m hangry or offering me seconds, thirds and fourths until I’m stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey— It’s all love. For mums, it’s not just about feeding the stomach, it’s about nourishing the mind, body and soul. I may not remember what I ordered for breakfast yesterday but I can never forget my mom’s Sunday morning aloo parathas with white butter that I grew up eating.
A meal becomes more than just about the food, but is a bonding experience that creates lifelong memories. Some of the fondest memories from my childhood involve food – whether it was my mum and I baking banana bread only for me to eat the crust and leave the rest, her coming up with the weirdest food combinations to get me to eat my veggies, coming back home from school and being greeted with gajar ka halwa, or watching movies together on TV while peeling peas. Even now, I look forward to chai time after work where she and I have hour-long conversations over tea and snacks.
The Language Of The Heart
In an Asian household, where the main form of love language is often ‘acts of service’, ‘I love you’ comes in many unspoken ways that indicate the bigger message of always being there for each other no matter what. Sometimes that reminder is all you need. Life, like fruit, is full of peels and pits and de-seeded, sliced fruit may be a mom’s purest gesture of love, not because of the fruit itself but the effort and motive behind it to take out the bitter and sour so that you can enjoy the pure sweetness.