“Meraki” [pronounced: may-rah-kee].
It’s a Greek word, derived from the Turkish “Merak”, for which there is no direct English translation. It is used to describe “doing something with soul, creativity, or love”, no matter how difficult the task. It should be of no surprise that I immediately think of my work with food. I love all of it and can hardly wait for each morning when I’m refreshed to start in again with passion and excitement. Whether I’m growing, preparing, eating, or even photographing food, I put my soul into whichever piece I am doing.
It is well known the Greeks love food! How better to express Meraki than with food!
As I ponder this word, I realize that singularly and with my family, this is what I put into saying grace before a meal. When my children were here, at some meals we would use a religious blessing, and sometimes we would quote “Madeline” – “We love our bread. We love our butter, but most of all, we love each other.” I think that one was a favorite.
Now the words vary, but always my intent is on capturing the feeling of the moment and passion of the heart.
While at the same time, acknowledging the many hands that shared in the task of providing food for my table. I most often will speak of growers, harvesters, truckers, and/or store clerks. I include asking for blessings on our food for the day and the days going forward, as well as remembering my family and friends.
It’s not about exact wording, it’s about intention.
Sometimes grace is spoken out loud, sometimes it is silently remembered.
Always, for me, it is from the magic within my soul.
The opportunities for sharing food and beverage with joy and creativity are numerous. One way is preparing a meal when we’re tired. I know that seems crazy, and is often the last thing we want to do, but when we do it anyway, isn’t this an expression of joy and acknowledgment that we are here and that in spite of feeling tired, we are grateful. Perhaps, the one who is preparing our meal is not a good cook or is having an off day, but for us the meal was prepared lovingly. Meraki can be as simple as offering a favorite, steaming mug of coffee.
Meraki is a spouse preparing a glass of water to quench nighttime thirst.
A favorite baker makes wonderful cupcakes and cakes.
You should see and taste her creations! Some are intricately decorated. Some are simple. Her passion for creating and sharing comes through from her into her designs. By just gazing on the cake you can feel the soul, creativity, and love evident in Clouser Cakes N’ Bakes. And when you eat one of her cupcakes? The feeling is magnified. That is Meraki!
Shortly after my health crisis that left me with severely restricted food options for a few years, we had guests join us for dinner. The meal I prepared happened to be all foods I can’t eat. I have so many restrictions, but at that time I had designed the menu with my out-of-town guests in mind, knowing they love traditional New England dinners of potato salad, baked beans, and fresh-baked bread.
One of my guests asked how it is that I choose to serve dinners that often have foods that I cannot eat.. I am asked this question often. I think “Meraki” is now going to be my answer.
When I am preparing food for my family and guests, it is not about me.
Although, you can’t give without receiving, right? The food I serve and the heart I put into the creative presentation is an extension of my love for my guests and family. It is an extension of myself and I wish that love to come through when I share food.
Throughout the year we have opportunities to share food with great joy and creativity, keeping in mind that creativity doesn’t have to be fancy.
When I am cooking for friends and family, no matter how little or grand the offering, it is going to give me even greater satisfaction knowing there is a six-letter word that sums up my passion and emotion! A word that conveys love, care, and appreciation of having them choose to sit at my table to eat and visit.
So! How do YOU express Meraki?! Please share!