By Samantha Papesch
A few years ago my best friend’s stepdad passed away. It was a sad and difficult time, but there was a silver lining – I was in New Zealand when it happened, and I was on hand to offer my love and support.
What came as surprise though, was that after all the years of knowing my best friend, I struggled to find the right way to comfort her in this situation.
She was emotionally drained from sadness and funeral preparations, and had lots of immediate family around her – and I was conscious of not getting in the way. So, after much deliberation (and some good advice from my Mum), I decided the most helpful thing to do was to cook a meal.
The irony behind this was that my cooking really sucked. My best friend on the other hand was a natural cook (who went on to become a professional chef). You can imagine the ridicule when I called her one day to ask ‘why my whipped cream had failed and should I add flour to thicken it?’. Her culinary prowess, and my complete lack of it had been a running joke between us for years.
With this in mind I was determined to create something that would knock her gastronomic socks off. So, I googled a few recipes for inspiration, and set off for the supermarket.
As I pored over the aisles trying to find a selection of ingredients, I realised luck wasn’t on my side that day. I couldn’t find what I needed, and improvisation was not forthcoming. Deflated, I returned home with what can only be described as a ‘packet’ meal.
But, it turns out luck really was on my side, because as I discovered later, this little packet was pure magic. Together with a few simple ingredients thrown into an oven pot, I was able to make a quick, easy, inexpensive, nourishing, and truly tasty meal.
This ‘basic’ Maggi Chicken Chasseur dinner (along with some mashed potato and peas) was just what my friend needed after a long and tiresome day. It was received with much gratitude, and was the difference between tackling another ‘chore’ and some much-needed respite.
Since then, it’s been my ‘go-to meal’ to help comfort family, friends, or people in my community who need it the most.
The gesture of a meal doesn’t need to be grand, nor should it require channelling your inner Masterchef. What’s important is creating an opportunity to connect.
When you arrive on someone’s doorstep with the humble gift of food, what you’re really saying is that you care. It’s a chance to check-in, give them a hug, and make sure they feel supported.
A simple act of kindness – even if it is from a packet – will always have a bigger impact than you think.
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