I should be a foodie, I’ve said to myself. They’re cool, and I like eating food. But at some point early on in this very long tech boom, I found myself at a trendy place with little flakes of raw fish I was supposed to “marinate” on a block of salt… for 3 to 5 seconds per side. Now I don’t know if you can actually cook fish on gorgeous blocks of Himalayan salt, but I realized in that moment that for all my qualities, I am not a true foodie.

My appreciation of fine wine taps out somewhere between $8 and $12 per bottle. I’ve had great wine, but many of the finer points are lost on my palate I fear.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m aligned with many of the foodie values. I’d like fewer pesticides in my body and the body of my children. I’d like to eat stuff that is made in a way that sustains, not diminishes, our planet and the creatures on it. Also I love small businesses, rustic sheds, high-tech copper pipes and plumbing that make booze, dining rooms with twinkly lightbulbs and beautiful surfaces, and people¬† dedicated to a craft.

I guess I’m foodie-adjacent.

But really I just love a meal, made by someone else. Served on a clean plate. Ideally I’m enjoying this meal while someone else makes sure my children eat (don’t get me started on kids food… and I know, if I were a foodie they wouldn’t eat what they eat).

Maybe what I love is being cared for.

In Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers a woman going through a bitter divorce has to send her kids off on a minibreak with her ex and his perky, enthusiastic younger girlfriend. Predictably it’s painful, but she finds herself grateful to have one more person helping with the kids, and a few days off. She wonders if she might even end up friends with this “rival.” Help can come from the unlikliest of sources.

Maybe I’m thinking about this because we’ve just lost my father-in-law, and when you’re grieving every act of care resonates so deeply. Grief is a weird discombobulated feeling, a sort of separation from everything. A kind gesture pierces that bubble so fiercely, and reminds me how great it is to feel cared for.

We’re just starting down this path mourning Mel, and I’m sure there will be more to say. But right now I’m grateful to the foodies, and my friend who helps out with the kids. The cashier with the kind smile. I’m grateful to everyone who cares deeply about something and extends that care and kindness to their fellow humans. We can all really use it.