Day 9 of the 30 days, 30 words challenge:
Dutch oven, 1. an iron kettle for baking, with a tight-fitting convex lid, on which live coals can be placed. 2. a metal container for roasting meats, etc. with an open side placed so that it is toward the fire. 3. a brick oven whose walls are preheated for cooking.
The casseroles started arriving on Sunday. Large glass baking dishes covered in foil. Aluminum pans. Dutch ovens in every size and color. Usually, scotchtaped to the top was a handwritten note with the same kind of words and the name of the family who left the dish. We took the casseroles off the stoop and lined them up on the countertop. Then we took post-its and labeled them: broccoli and cheese, sweet potato and marshmallow, tuna, baked ziti, lasagna, shepherd’s pie. There were round tins of quiche. There were a few kinds of pie. Someone had started a list on a legal pad with columns drawn down the page: what dish had been brought on what day and by whom, ostensibly to know how long they would keep or for future thank you notes. None of us felt much like eating. It’s funny how the impulse in times like these is to want to make food: as if the void that needs filling is in someone’s stomach. And it’s funny how at this time of others’ great generosity, it is hard to bring yourself to cut a piece of something, put it on a plate, and stick it in the microwave. These meals are gestures made to simplify but they serve as reminders of how much energy it takes just to decide to put food on a fork and stick it in your mouth, of how much time it takes to chew. We kept filling the refrigerator, stacking and organizing and reorganizing, negotiating apple pie and potato salad, until there was no longer any room. We didn’t want to be wasteful so we put a sign on the door that said, “Thank you for your thoughtfulness but there’s no more room in our fridge.” We heard the sounds of people coming by, their footsteps on the front walk, arriving and receding, but none of us could bear to go to the door. Instead, we sat in the living room with the lights off and the T.V. on a program that none of us was watching. We didn’t need to go out. We had all that food already. We knew it was there, just in case any of us ever felt hungry again.