I’m not the best cook, but from time to time I like to cook a meal. Last time I cooked, two thoughts came up that I’d like to share.
First: Cooking and Culture
Food is an important part of every culture. Wherever you go, which ever country you visit: everyone likes to talk about good food. In Thailand people even greet each other with: Have you eaten rice yet?
When I cook local dishes, this connects me even more to the local culture. This starts already when buying food in the market. When I buy the ingredients, the sellers always ask me what I’m going to make with the pork I just bought. Or I ask friends and neighbours, what they will be having for lunch or dinner – this is always a helpful topic when I want to start a conversation. The best you can do is to buy a local speciality somewhere and walk around with it, so everyone can see what you’re going to eat. They will be really impressed (whether you actually really eat it or not is up to you). I once bought some kind of stinky beans and the people seemed to be really impressed. However, my wife wasn’t and we had this awful taste in our mouths for at least a day!
Second: Cooking and Hospitality
If we invite someone to our house, we usually cook a nice meal to eat together. We show our respect for our guest by spending time preparing the meal and getting everything ready.
Imagine a wedding without a meal! Many big events include food. Why? Because in this way we can have fellowship by enjoying the meal together, celebrating one another’s company.
As missionaries we are guests in a foreign country. By inviting local people to a meal we can show hospitality and become hosts ourselves.
So: why should every missionary cook? Apart from showing appreciation of the local food, it can be a bridge to open hearts to our need of spiritual food.