Food freely given exacts from us a promise to go beyond its selfish reception to the unselfish realm of deep gratitude. There we commit ourselves to give to others what we have received. My food mentors— grandmother and mother—cooked not because their sense of dignity depended on others’ opinions of them but because they knew that treating tablemates to the best they could offer was the backbone of every family and nation. Though ingratitude and indifference might have come to their table, it disappeared when they left it. Poured forth from previously pursed lips was a litany of gratitude complemented by what these good souls always wanted to see: sighs and smiles of contentment.
—from the book Table of Plenty: Good Food for Body and Spirit by Susan Muto