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21 Nov, 2023
There’s something about gathering around a meal that’s been lovingly prepared. This week, many families around the world will be celebrating Thanksgiving—a time to share stories, to speak and witness gratitude and pause to listen and reflect, to laugh and lament.
The gathering around a table is at the heart of hospitality, connection and welcome. It’s where we honour the humanity in one another and the aromas and tastes of food unlock wonderful memories of joy and moments of connection with family and friends.
In Dalpura Retirement Community this sense of hospitality is being driven in a unique way by Chaplain, Mark Deutschmann.
As the new Chaplin, he was looking for a way to get to know the residents better, giving them space to chat about anything they wanted to and connect with him and others. The idea of cooking in an informal setting came to mind. It has proven to be a great way to not only provide food that individuals are not able to cook for themselves, but make meals that bring back great memories in a relaxed and friendly environment.
Mark has always enjoyed baking and the residents love to share food. So beginning in May this year, Mark created “Baking with Mark”, a monthly event where he bakes a meal or dessert as requested by the residents.
Up to 10 residents participate each time and with the ongoing popularity of the activity, Mark’s culinary repertoire has expanded from baking to cooking special meals.
Creating an atmosphere of welcome, begins with a cuppa and a biscuit and residents chat and laugh, share titbits of news and stories and connection is made. Residents are then able participate to the extent they want to—be it cooking, observing, learning or simply to come and eat.
Some learn how to make a new dish, others enjoy the social connection and some, the simple pleasure of enjoying a home cooked meal.
Laura Hooper, Community Manager at Dalpura shared, “Living on your own limits what dishes you cook for yourself. Most residents want quick and easy. Mark always asks the residents who attend what they want for the next month’s dish. Usually, we get old family favourites or dishes that are not easy to cook for one. We have made Shepherd’s Pie, puddings, fettucine, pesto, Caeser salad and this month, South African cuisine, Bobotie and Melktert. Both were delicious.”
This has sparked an interest in international cuisines and may be the start of next year’s theme.
This story is a great reminder of the power of gathering with others at a table—family, friends, neighbours. As we pass plates of fragrant dishes or a simple bowl of food, thanksgiving spills over and a form of nourishment takes place that cannot be bought—the nourishment of the soul.