Isn't it funny how you can feel hungry, cook something, and by the time it's done cooking you don't feel hungry anymore, as if the act of cooking is as nourishing as eating? That's probably not scientifically true, so please keep eating. But there is something mystical about preparing a meal, and even sharing that meal, that feeds us in an intangible way.
Years ago, when I worked in an office with my best friend, we would routinely turn to each other while eating lunch and ask, "does food ever change your mood?" The answer, of course, was "Yes!"
I'm sure there is some data about chemicals in the brain responding to sugar levels, etcetera etcetera, but I'm not referring to that. I'm curious about how a nice meal can restore joy in a seemingly hopeless day. The kind of day when it's raining, you've forgotten your umbrella, you're stuck in the subway standing on a muggy train car and there's not a bit of personal space to be had. You finally get to your stop, it's pouring outside, and you're a 15 minute walk from the train. You get to your apartment, change into dry clothes, walk into the kitchen and start to prepare dinner. And before you know it, the place is a fragrant paradise. You're on your own little oasis pretending you're the head chef on your own cooking show (we all do it). And the day slips away. The rain, that frustrating train ride, the stupid umbrella you forgot to bring, it all slips away. And joy returns. That inexplicable joy.
Then someone else comes home and you tell them about your crazy day and they tell you about their crazy day, but instead of frustration there's an air of detachment. Maybe even a little laughter. And you sit down to eat and there it is again...that joy. There's just nothing like it.