The Washington chef José Andrés has spent the past week in Puerto Rico cooking meals in hot-tub-size paella pans for Americans affected by Hurricane Maria. With his team, working out of mobile kitchens, restaurants and food trucks, he’s prepared more than 50,000 meals and counting.
But you don’t have to be a famous restaurateur to make a difference through food. In the wake of Donald Trump’s election, many Americans have taken to the streets. Some have taken a knee. Others have donated, written, called and boycotted. Me? I’m cooking.
I have been an avid home cook for my entire life. I started making Thanksgiving dinner for my family when I was still in middle school. Now, along with voting and volunteering, one of the ways I resist is by cooking for activists here in Kingston, N.Y. I bring lasagnas to phone-banking meetings, roll rice-and-bean burritos for canvassers to eat on the go and drop off corn muffins at protests.
I’ve also challenged myself to look closely at what happens around my own table. A few months back, Nicole Taylor, a fellow cookbook author, asked me the last time I invited someone who doesn’t look like me over for a meal. It’s a critical question we should all be asking ourselves, because the most valuable tool in our kitchens isn’t found in any drawer or cupboard: It’s the table. Remember that Derek Black, whose father was a grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, began to rethink his white nationalist views after being invited to Shabbat dinner by a college classmate.