Valine Georgeson, Atlanta, Georgia
We have all heard comments from time to time from individuals who express a desire that Philoptochos eliminate all forms of cooking from its activities. In their mind, cooking is not an activity that will attract new members or keep current members interested. The idea of pastry baking is sometimes equated with the end of the world!Well, I am here to talk about the pleasure and value of cooking together as Philoptochos women! As someone who has done a great deal of cooking and baking for Philoptochos fundraising and hospitality, I have come to realize that when our members are cooking together, there is so much more happening in the kitchen than food preparation.
What do I mean by this?The kitchen is a great place to teach and to be taught. Of course, you can learn recipes or cooking techniques, but often the lessons taught or the dialogue exchanged has nothing to do with food.
Cooking inspires memory and when hands are busy, our chefs will share stories from their lives, loving, painful or humorous, with words that they might not share in another setting.And laughter! We laugh a great deal when we cook and what better way to bond and enjoy volunteer work than in a lighthearted atmosphere? One friend always says that our cooking projects are the best therapy in the world.
I love, that even in 2015, we continue certain cooking traditions and that the recipes we use were handed down from members who are no longer with us. Hand-crafted food items are such a huge focus in the food world. I like to think that Philoptochos has been way ahead of that trend for a very long time!And here is another great thing about cooking together. In my large parish in Atlanta, there are many individuals who are newcomers or who are recent converts to Orthodoxy. It is not always easy to meet parishioners when coming to a new church. So many times women have learned about a Philoptochos cooking project. They walk in the door knowing no one, and leave with a different sense of community. Working together with others means that you learn names, or as is often the case, the newcomer finds that she shares many acquaintances with those already there. Once a new convert thanked us for welcoming her and noted that she now felt “part of the team”.
Our members are talented and gifted in so many areas. They are constantly creating new ways and projects to address fundraising and membership. We need these ideas to grow and serve those whom we are charged with helping. Let’s always continue to encourage this kind of creativity and thinking outside the box.But let’s not lock those kitchen doors!
Cooking with and for Philoptochos is a good thing.