Editor’s Note: Domonique Thompson, Lay Missioner and new DCSC volunteer, shares her relationship with food and how it’s encompassing nature blends so naturally into community for her. 

During quarantine many people picked up new hobbies or skills to fill those endless hours in their homes. Some took up an instrument, challenge, or even a language. During my time in quarantine, however, I took up cooking! Every day I would make a new recipe and the excitement of getting the ingredients in preparation was something I would look forward to. I love prepping for a meal or cooking the night before because I have hopes of it leading to something great. 

Cooking is a whole body experience. It engages all of your senses. Take, for example, cutting an onion. The sound of the skin as it crunches when you cut. The slimy inner layer that you feel as you peel the outer layers. The tears that begin to blur your vision as the onion’s essence becomes airborne. The flavors it brings out in your dish as you taste it.

Cooking was something that I used as a way to pass time at first but it soon turned into a source of comfort and tranquility. In a time where everything is so unknown, this gave me a way to control my environment. While cooking, all the stress of the day melts away as I turn all my attention towards the meal that I am preparing. During my time at the casa, there have been many opportunities to continue my hobby of cooking. But there was a wrench thrown into the system: COOKING FOR 15 PEOPLE! Cooking for 15 people presents a unique challenge and reward. When I first started cooking for the people in the casa, I was overwhelmed with the sheer volume that it takes to cook for 15 people. My activity that was once a source of relief became a source of more stress, or so I thought. This all changed when I saw the people that I care about enjoy my food. It makes all of the hard work WORTH IT! 

What is so great about the casa is that not only do you share your recipes but you also learn other recipes as well. My casa family introduced to me the beauties of an apple crisp. When you take a recipe, treat it as a baseline, then alter it to your own personal taste, and it becomes your own recipe. Being vegan, I am able to share with the casa that vegan food can be delish, which has been a personal joy. It’s not all grass! I’ve made this particular apple crisp on several occasions and while the apples are great, the star of the show is the crisp itself. I load it almond meal, crushed walnuts, oat, butter, maple syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg. Tell me that does not sound good! I can assure you it’s even better than it sounds. 

 Cooking is a cultural experience as well.  When you enter into a new culture’s food, it is as though you’ve entered a new realm. You have to get all new seasonings, produce, ingredients and sometimes even cooking tools. A culture’s food tells you a lot about the country and area. It is a form of cultural identity. It informs you of the produce that were able to be grown in that area, the diets of the people, and also the overall health of the people there. Being in a multicultural Casa community, we’ve experienced food from all over the world including Argentinian pancakes, Greek falafel, Irish shepherd’s pie and Guyanese curry chickpea a roti. These foods allow us to embrace our cultures and heritage in such a large house where it can get lost in the sauce. Food brings this house together, creating a space for us to express our creativity and a way for us to bond over the table. For that I am so grateful to God as I wouldn’t have it any other way.