Touchy Feely

Napa, brunch, bed and breakfast, cinnamon crisp, food, loveI spent the weekend in Napa with my man and friends visiting from the right coast, and they either insulted me or paid me a great compliment by the end of our time together.

“We didn’t realize you’re one of those ‘touchy feely’ kinds,” the couple said to me on Sunday.

At first I couldn’t figure out what I’d done wrong (assuming it was not a good thing to be touchy feely).

“Ah,” I finally answered. “Yes, I complimented the chef at the B&B we stayed in, but you don’t know the whole story.”

“You told him that the food he created for his guests came from his heart, not just from the ingredients, saucepans, and oven!” they exclaimed, a bit of recrimination in their voices.

I gulped. It did sound hokey when my friends repeated it, even though the chef made improbable but fabulous brunches for his weekend guests.

Imagine inn-made, melt-in-your-mouth cranberry scones with fresh fruit, yogurt, homemade jam and fresh-squeezed orange juice, then thick cheese sandwiches grilled with delightful homemade bread and a small cup of tomato bread soup cradled in the center of the plate.

Think tiny soft-on-the inside-crunchy-on-the-outside cinnamon twists that melted in eager mouths, then a five-inch square chef-made ravioli filled with ricotta, basil, and other savory spices, topped with a pouched egg. A weird combination that tasted like Tuscany and sun-ripened mornings.ravioli, food, Napa, bed and breakfast, brunch, love

“I read a newspaper article about the chef,” I explained defensively. “He’s the 10th of 17 children. In his family, cooking and serving meant survival and love. Plus, he became a Catholic priest until he realized he didn’t belong there. He had an epiphany on Epiphany and bought this B&B with his partner.”

“Sooooo?” my friends asked. “He serves good food to keep his guests coming back. It’s called economic survival.”

I shook my head. “This chef’s main ingredient is love. I could taste it in every bite. This is his service, not as a priest, but as a giver, a nurturer, maybe even a ‘touchy feely’ cook.”

My friends rolled their eyes.

My heart sank.

Can’t food preparation equate love?

Call me touchy feely (and I have a feeling many do), but I think so.

touchy feely, pineapple, food, love, granddaughter

First pineapple – a touchy feely food photo of granddaughter Sophie.



47 thoughts on “Touchy Feely

  1. I completely agree with what you are saying. Love is definitely something you can taste in great cooking. That is why it is so often that nothing can beat your grandmother’s or mother’s version of something.


    • Thanks for finding my blog. I just hopped on over to yours – good one! AND it made me want to visit Australia and Arizona (not necessarily in one trip). Yes, you’re right, mom’s cooking is known as ‘the best,’ all because of the love.


  2. Of course I agree with you, Pam. Food absolutely tastes better when made with love. And please share the name of this B&B for our future Napa visits!
    ps Sophie is beautiful and it looks like she loves that pineapple! : )


  3. i completely agree with you perfect example is my mum her cooking is mediocre because she saw it as a chore and didn’t enjoy it but her baking is a whole different matter you would never believe the same person made the cakes as made dinner simply because she loved baking so the love shone through


    • Wish you were with us to take photos of the dishes (and to eat them, of course!). You would have done them justice. Come visit us in the left coast sometime, and we’ll visit Napa together…


  4. There is no question in my mind if food preparation can equate love. Anyone can smear some peanut butter on a piece of bread without thought or feeling, right? But a chef…one with passion for his/her craft…puts a lot of thought and feeling into each dish prepared.

    I know whenever I cooked meals for my family it wasn’t done out of a sense of obligation, or its just my job, I did it because I loved them.

    There is hardly a better feeling than knowing you are feeding healthy, flavorful and nourishing food to those you care about.

    I think chefs view the “customers” as a sort of extended family for them and it shows in their meals, the presentation, the aesthetics, the flavor…all of it.

    Curiously, your friends seemed to receive the meals you so enjoyed as just a “thing”. Nothing important, mediocre, not in anyway emotional and viewed the fact that the meals were good as merely an advertising technique or prepared with only revenue in mind. Good food=people returning. In fact while that is true, that is not why a chef cooks…that is the owner of the restaurant’s concern…bringing people back. Chef’s just love to cook and want their food to be enjoyed….we can love food, we can prepare food with love, we can love those we feed….isn’t a common feature of a “romantic dinner” the food? In addition to the atmosphere, the company, etc…

    Your friends, with their perspective, are really missing out on some love, coming from a direction apparently they cannot conceive. Its their loss.


    • Thanks for dropping by and talking with me and the other readers of my blog. I like the way you describe just ‘smearing on some peanut butter’ as opposed to truly putting feeling into a prepared dish. The interesting thing is that the chef at this inn was an owner as well as the cook, but his love of sharing his talent was definitlely more motivated by emotion than revenue-making.


      • Ok then the chef has a vested interest to having returning customers. I noted you did research on the chef beforehand. That he came from such a large family is interesting…it makes me wonder if he viewed his cooking for you and your friends, as well as others…as a form of cooking for his family. Wouldn’t it be kind of cool to just ASK the chef his motivation? If you had, I wonder about his answer and the impact on your friends thoughts. meh…hindsight, right?


  5. I agree with you and feel so sorry for your guests – It is such a nice feeling to have a server whom you know is enjoying their job and great to tell him or her it is appreciated. Marci


    • I was hoping you’d say that you know the chocolate chip butterscotch oatmeal bars I bake and mail to you are made totally out of love. :+) Because of course, they are…always.


  6. I shall call you Arora from now on. Wasn’t that the name of one Sleeping Beauty?

    It is exactly conversations like this that keeps me at the ol’ bloggeroo. Friends, validation, acknowledgement, and a good laugh.


  7. I think you can definitely taste the care and love one puts into their cooking – and I don’t think there’s anything wrong about being ‘touchy feely’, just because you can appreciate the culinary expertise of a chef who loves his work. 🙂


    • I think I’ll always bristle at the phrase ‘touchy feely,’ because the connotation is that it’s ‘soft’ or naive to be that way. However, I think the phrase should have more gravitas in it – as in, “don’t we wish our politicians were more touchy feely.”


  8. I had dinner guests recently who were commenting about how Some people didn’t like them. I replied “Everybody likes ME, because I feed them.” It was a joke at the time and got a really good laugh, but I’m thinking this is why I’m so blessed with all my friends. Thanks for the thought.


  9. I think your supposedly ‘touchy-feely-averse’ friends secretly love genuine compliments like yours. I think that if they really thought about it, in private, they wouldn’t want you to stop saying nice things about people. So, please don’t stop, especially in the service industry where so much hard work is seen as ‘expected’ rather than appreciated for the incredibly hard work that it is.


  10. One of my wedding presents from my sister was a blue and white spice canister, marked “Love”. The only directions on it are, “Sprinkle in liberal doses to all your food before serving.” I have it perched above my stove, and it’s been there for 23 years now. YOu can never put too much love in food. ; )


  11. Your granddaughter Sophie is so sweet! I’m a ‘touchy feely’ type, too. I can taste the positive (or negative) energy in food, the love it absorbs from the cook, the loving hands that prepare it. Sharing food and preparing food = love in our family…


    • Oh, I like the way you describe food having positive and/or negative energy. I never thought of it that way – and yet it’s true! Yes, what a wonderful way to share love with your family.


  12. We have a game called the touchy feely game. We have about 20 small objects sewed into small cloth envelopes. They are passed round and everyone has to guess what is in the parcel. Things like paper clips and erasers or a playing card. Keeps everyone happy for an hour and both children and adults love it. Touch is a wonderful sense isn’t it.


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