To Cook Is to Love: A Foodies Journal: Hostility or Hospitality?

John Verlinden
Photo: Eric Hess
John Verlinden Photo: Eric Hess

John Verlinden
Photo: Eric Hess

By: John Verlinden*/TRT Columnist—

The verses in holiday cards assured us it’s possible. The traditional carols told us it’s within our reach. Every television special confirmed it: peace on earth and goodwill to men always triumphs over complacency and selfishness. As we celebrated with family and friends, we felt the warmth and imagined the possibilities. As we watched the faces of strangers when the ball dropped in Times Square, or looked into the eyes of friends and loved ones during a midnight toast, we witnessed that most common and sincerest resolution of all: to do more for and be kinder to others next year.

Then life happens, and all those good intentions get buried under a Nor’easter of bills, work, responsibilities, and deadlines. I know each year as the holidays fade and I get sucked back into our competitive, dog-eat-dog world, it becomes difficult for me to see the humanity and vulnerability in others. The driver who delays me, even for a moment, is a fool. A co-worker who makes an error is careless. An individual who doesn’t share my view on a controversial political or social issue is ignorant.

We take it personally. The young woman who takes too long at the ATM, the businessman who forgets to remove his belt at airport security, and the elderly lady who doesn’t have her money ready at the check-out have all intentionally delayed us and are therefore worthy of our scorn. Even though we don’t know what’s in the other’s heart, don’t know what kind of a day she’s having or what’s going on in his life, we feel justified in our contempt.

What if we responded with hospitality instead of hostility? Preserving and expanding the role of hospitality in our everyday lives may be just the salve our troubled society needs. Hospitality takes us outside of ourselves, requiring us to stop for a moment, and consider the other person’s needs first. A moment is all it takes. We’re naturally hospitable, and when we pause instead of reacting, our irritation passes and we see the other person. When we see them, we want to make their day better and make them feel loved. This year, I’m choosing hospitality. Won’t you join me?

To share your thoughts about how a little hospitality might soften a coarsening society, ask a question or suggest a topic for a future article, contact me at or visit and join our Latin food forum.

Until next time – ¡Mucho Gusto!, ¡Muchas Gracias! y ¡Buen Provecho!


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