For Boston: The Healing Power of Food

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“My wonderful breakfast!” These three words -- a caption that accompanied a photo of the fruit salad Lu Lingzi enjoyed Monday morning -- remain a simple but powerful reminder of a tie that binds. In times of great joy and those of enormous sadness, across lines of geography, race, and religion. It is no mistake that churches emphasize the breaking of bread, that business meetings are held over lunch, that celebrations almost always include a meal. We all have to eat, and, to an enormous extent, we all enjoy and seek solace in it. At its most basic it is an act of survival, at its epitome a sacred ritual. No where is this more clear than in Boston.

Food trucks, whether of their own accord or via generous donations, offered food on the house for emergency personnel throughout the week. Many brick-and-mortar restaurants followed suit, some tacking on discounts for runners and spectators, others donating the proceeds of their sales on designated days to funds set up for the bombing victims, and still others holding fundraisers for the same purpose. The Craft Beer Cellar repurposed funds raised previously, putting expansion plans on hold in favor of helping those devastated by the bombs.

Boston food truck

April 16, Albuquerque, New Mexico: Pat Humpf, owner of the Gedunk Food truck, delivers a sandwich to a customer at Bataan Memorial Park in Albuquerque. Humpf will be donating 100% of proceeds to victims of the Boston bombing or the American Red Cross. (Image: © Dean Hanson/Journal/Albuquerque Journal/

And, in at least one case, jobs were even offered to displaced restaurant workers when Jim Hoben, owner of El Pelon Taqueria, reached out to Grub Street Boston to offer temporary positions to anyone whose work hours may have been affected by the blasts. “My crew is willing to cut their own hours and job share until the restaurants affected reopen,” Hoben said in a statement.

Meanwhile, emotions ran raw among chefs and food bloggers as they expressed their grief, frustration, and love from as far away as the other side of the world. “It's a sad day for running. It's beyond my comprehension,” wrote Anja Scherwin from Dubai. “I am numb with sorrow, grief and disbelief over the bombings today in Boston,” began Stephanie of Food and Fitness 4 Real. Also a runner herself, she went on to urge readers to go for a walk or run this week, “do it in honor and remembrance of those who were injured or killed.”

As the reality of what had happened set in, Andy Ricker, chef and owner at Pok Pok restaurants in New York and Portland, said it perhaps as well as any of us could. “Diverting all of my songkran wishes to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing,” he tweeted. Songkran is a Thai New Year’s celebration, and I can only imagine we’d all divert our new year’s wishes if we could.

Boston may be a city rocked by senseless tragedy, but it is also a city united by its humanity and a beacon for a nation in mourning. Among its fatalities this week were Lingzi, described as a lover of food, and Krystle Campbell, a valued restaurant employee. It's only fitting, then, that among its heroes are also those whose lives and work are dedicated to sustenance.

Diana Prichard is a freelance writer specializing in food, agriculture, and conservative politics. She is also the owner of the small hog farm Olive Hill. Find her on Twitter