An old German proverb has come to my mind recently. I've also heard this proverb credited to the Dutch and the Russians and there is a variant from Don Quixote which, says that hunger is the best sauce, though any country - especially in Europe, could lay claim. Even so, I am going with German because I am of German descent, because the history of the Germanic people testifies of their familiarity with scarcity and hunger, and because as I write this, I am definitely ready for dinner: a dinner that I will enjoy with my family, the way we do throughout the week but especially on Sunday, except for one very lonely Sunday two weeks ago when my wife and kids were out of town and I was home. My wife had planned a very fun adventure for the kids but timing and other logistical factors precluded my participation.
While I always enjoy church, on this week I was especially glad for the distraction and to be around friends and neighbors, if not family, though the afternoon was uncharted territory for me - I was a lone traveler in a land of isolation. On other days during my family's time away, I could distract myself from my solitude with work, errands, dinner with the missionaries in our area and other activities including a movie and NBA Jam challenge on the Wii with my excellent brother-in-law Stephen. While it was a given that their absence would be temporary and of a defined and relatively brief duration, especially when compared to periods of separation endured by others due to work, military service or death, it was nonetheless acutely felt.
I went through the motions of existence and decided to make a family favorite - a simple but classic chicken pot pie. My plan was that leftovers would serve as good fodder for later and that I would not have to cook again for a while.
Though it was the usual preparation, as I sat down to eat, it just didn't seem to be that savory. What does that have to do with the proverb? The answer is this: Hunger may be the best cook, but good company is the best seasoning, and the want of it leaves a gap that cannot be filled with food, no matter how delicious it may otherwise be.