Today I am leaving the house to go visit a friend!
Being unemployed, the mother of a toddler and having an anxiety disorder, this is actually a bit of a big deal for me. I’m going to an unfamiliar place, too, which doesn’t help. But my husband is home and can watch the night-owlet, and my friend is meeting me at the station so I won’t get lost, and we’re going to watch anime together and have an awesome time before going to drinks with the NaNoWriMo group, which we do every week all year long because we’re awesome that way.
I’m also going to cook for her, which is a thing I love doing. I like cooking for people – I go over to my mother’s house every week and cook her a big batch of something that she can freeze for lunches to take to work, and I’m a bit notorious for compulsively feeding people when they come over to my place. Feeding people makes me happy.
I’m not alone in this – there are some fictional characters I share the trait with. Makoto/Lita/Sailor Jupiter loves to cook, and to share her cooking with her friends. Seeing her on TV when I was younger meant a lot to me – I wasn’t the only gargantuan female who loved to cook and do girly things! Because when you’re a head taller than all your friends at school, you feel pretty gargantuan.
Molly Weasley feeds everyone compulsively, as a way of showing affection and taking care of people, and I like that too. The mother of seven children doesn’t always have much time for one-on-one affection, but feeding them all is an important thing that she does with a lot of love.
And I know she’s frequently decried as a living example of gender stereotyping and patriarchal oppression, but damn it, I loved Anne Bannard when I was a id. Anne was the youngest human member of the Famous Five, the ‘girly’ one who cooked and tidied up after her brothers and her cousin George (Georgina) who aspired to be a boy and refused to do girl things unless forced at knife-point. The rest of them wouldn’t have gotten far without Anne organizing meals, let me tell you.
And Susan! Susan from the ‘Swallows and Amazons’ series was one of my favourites. She was responsible, she was organized, she managed meals and camp-sites, fire-safety and minor injuries with calm good sense. Oh, how I wanted to be Susan when I was a kid. Susan was the reason, as several adults mention throughout the series, that the kids were allowed to go off adventuring on their own. Susan would make sure they were fed, dry, and safe, and could be relied on to call in an adult if necessary, as many of the others (Nancy especially) could not. She was an excellent campfire cook, and rose to the occasion in an emergency like nobody’s business. (And when she was scared or upset, that meant things were *serious*… it was like seeing your mother cry when you’re little, unfamiliar and upsetting).
I adore Studio Ghibli movies for the way they lovingly depict food. From Chihiro’s parents stealing the feast meant for the spirits, to Ponyo’s passion for ham, to Shiro feeding Shizuku noodles when she’s upset, to the fancy foods in the Kingdom of the Cats contrasting with the little crackers Haru feeds one lost kitten… the list goes on, but they show food as being important and having emotional weight as well as providing simple sustenance. It’s easy to be hungry after watching a Ghibli movie!
And with that, I’m off to watch ‘Whisper of the Heart’ and cook chicken for my friend.
I haven’t been writing much – well, at all – this last week. Sleep deprivation and stress do not make for words that trip lightly off the fingertips. But I will try again today, and keep trying, Persistence is the key!