Michelle Martin

Not by bread alone

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

It’s been a few years since I considered myself the best baker in our house.

Frank took that title, first by making his own pizza — including the crust — from scratch. Then there were pretzels and cookies and cupcakes and cakes. The big container of bread flour in the kitchen? That’s his.

Even though he lets me use it if I want to make something.

Caroline used to like to bake when she was a little girl. I remember the year she got a kids cookbook for Christmas and insisted that we make cupcakes before leaving the house for Christmas dinner. But she lost interest years before I started sharing baking supplies with Frank.

Now, though, she has developed an interest in cooking. She and a friend made dinner for our family while she was home on break, using a recipe from a cookbook she got for Christmas. The book — chosen off a wish list — was from Frank.

On Epiphany, she started making tamales for the first time, a project that spread over two days.

Part of her newfound interest is practical. She’s living off campus, with access to a kitchen, and she figures that if she makes a family-sized meal on Sunday, she can have leftovers most of the week at a fraction of the cost of even fast food. And it tastes better.

Learning to feed yourself is one of the things every young person must do if they are ever going to consider themselves adults; feeding our children is among the primary responsibilities of parents. We want to provide them the best food we can so they can grow healthy and strong.

Food also helps us build community, from families connecting over the dinner table every evening to extended families gathering for holiday celebrations. Breaking bread together can turn strangers into friends, and sharing favorite foods can help people who seem foreign to one another find how much they have in common.

That’s why food takes such a central place in our faith, from the manna the Israelites ate in the desert to loaves and fishes Jesus used to feed the multitude to Jesus himself, offered to us in the Eucharist. Food is how we sustain life.

Now, as our older children grow up, we are seeing the table turned just a bit, as they begin to cook for us. It’s not an everyday thing yet, not by a long shot, but it gives me a glimpse of the way they will sustain and nurture their own families.

Now I just to need to work a little harder to teach them how to clean up when they’re done. 


  • family life