A crab boil to celebrate a friends birthday, on Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020 in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

A crab boil to celebrate a friends birthday, on Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020 in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

Kalifornsky Kitchen: Cooking for others

Food tastes better when it’s shared with friends and family.

By Victoria Petersen

For the Peninsula Clarion

I think we used to cook more. Lately, my boyfriend and I have opted for easy dishes — things we could pop in the oven or on the stove. It might just be that it’s summer and turning on the oven or stove adds unnecessary heat to the house. It might be because of the state of the world or the lack of energy I have at the end of the day after working multiple jobs. I might be cooking less because I often used to cook for others.

I recently had the opportunity to spend time with friends, something that’s been difficult in the midst of our global pandemic. In the weeks leading up to our rendezvous, I racked my brain for the best dishes to make. Something new to them, something memorable, something comforting and something not too fussy or complicated. We made our friends a creamy cauliflower pasta and a saucy, coconut-ey chicken adobo with rice.

My boyfriend and I scooped the food onto paper plates for them and for a moment, there was silence as everyone gobbled up their food. It felt like returning to an old pastime. It had been months since I made and shared a meal with a group of friends. My cup felt very full, and still does, from the act. I don’t know what it is about taking the time and effort to cook and nourish the people you love, but it is profoundly more satisfying to me than cooking for and nourishing myself. Food tastes better when it’s shared with friends and family, I’m convinced.

Earlier this week, my friend and neighbor celebrated her birthday. A handful of us sat outside in her apartment’s yard at a picnic table. We brought seltzers and a dense lemon cake topped with raspberry whipped cream that melted in the hot sun. They made a crab boil, complete with sausage, potatoes, corn and crab for everyone. We spent the evening breaking crab legs, searching for the meat and catching each other up on life and our jobs, or lack thereof.

These meals have been some of the highlights of my summer and I’m looking forward to more this fall.

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