My neighbor Gloria and I occasionally share lunches out (we both love Indian food), trade samples of our favorite dishes with each other and, now and again, pick up an item or two for the other when we find good deals on produce at bargain prices. We're not bosom-buddy girlfriends, although we've known each other for many years. Instead, our admiration and respect for each other center first on being good neighbors (helpful but not intrusive) and second on loving food and cooking for one.
She and I help each other by taking care of plants or pets when one or the other is on vacation, providing rides to pick up cars at the service station, and even cleaning out roof gutters twice a year (she's the ladder person; I run around turning the outside water off and on at her command). Sometimes we share the neighborhood gossip, but always with respect for the other neighbors.
The joy of having Gloria as a trusted, neighborly friend is enhanced by her accomplished cooking skills, her joy of food, and her delight in sharing. Today Gloria brought me a bowl of her stuffed cabbage soup. It will be a treat for my lunch this afternoon. Yesterday, I offered her a rutabaga I found at an awesome price, only to learn that she’d bought a rutabaga of her own the day before. The beauty of that event is that she’d never seen a rutabaga until she and I had a conversation about rutabagas a week or so ago. Gloria and I have a food communication, where we talk, each of us learning from the other.
The language of food transcends the buzz of cooking shows, internet blogs, and top-ten best sellers in the cookbook trade when it frames the act of one neighbor looking out for another. I feel great joy about this neighbor of mine who also cooks for one.