“The best cooks cook for love”

Food editor Jen Bedloe’s lightbulb moment was at the age of 14 on a hungry afternoon after school…

“The best cooks cook for love”

There have been several key moments in my life where I’ve appreciated the unifying nature of food, and my first clear memory of this is from when I was about 14 years old. My brother, sister and I got home from school before our mum and, feeling ravenous, my younger siblings started to look to me to feed them.

I didn’t have much experience of making ‘real food’. We baked with mum but she dutifully presented us with nourishment every mealtime, without much involvement from us. This was a turning point. The point in my life when I realised that raiding the snack cupboard would not suffice, and waiting a whole hour or so for my mum to feed us was not an option.

I conjured up some strange combinations on those afternoons. It started with the random offerings from Home Ec: scone pizzas (weird, doughy but ok); crepes filled with cheese and ham (yum), but then came the discovery of pasta shells. Oh, my.

"What unites my first fumblings with pasta shells and the world of food I know now is that the best cooks cook for love: the love of sharing a meal and feeding people they love."

Mum didn’t make pasta so this was my thing. I still remember fondly the buttery sauce I made with fresh tomatoes and stringy melted cheese, liberally scattered with spicy black pepper (my dad had a thing about black pepper and tomatoes).

Back then I hadn’t dreamed there were Italian food gods and goddesses out there making similar buttery sauces with black pepper. This was my personal, if slightly ad hoc, voyage of discovery.

What unites my first fumblings with pasta shells and the world of food I know now is that the best cooks cook for love: the love of sharing a meal and feeding people they love. The food I cook now seems a world a way from my small North Lincolnshire village but I carry this little memory with me and as I develop (slightly more grown up) recipes in the delicious. test kitchen, I wonder who will make my recipe and who they’ll share it with…

Next time you’re making a meal, stir in a little love. I bet it will taste good.

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