I'm thinking about feasting this week. You too? Probably the fall, and the anticipation for festive get-togethers around the calendar corner.
I'm thinking about feasting because in a few days I have an essay going out into the world at one of my favorite sites. A place that values feasting and hospitality and the sacramental life. (I can't wait to share the story of me and my new curmudgeon monk friend in a couple of days!)
I'm thinking about feasting because I stumbled on a gorgeous television series that makes a cinematic artform out of food preparation. I have never (and maybe will never this side of Heaven) be able to afford the lavishness of the feasts these genius chefs create. For now, I'm completely satisfied to imagine the taste and smell through the skillfully directed camera lens.
Chef's Table reminds me of another favorite reality foodie show our friends Shaun and Katie introduced to us last year. I'm not a foodie and have barely ever travelled out of the U.S. and still found myself weeping during some of these food and culture stories. Also: Phil Rosenthal is a precious man, don't you think?
The conversations about feasting always remind me of my favorite foodie movie of all time. You want to talk about the reality of the Gospel found in food? Watch this movie and give thanks.
I was talking with a dear new friend yesterday, and told her my conversation starter for the week. She told me a sweet, sweet story of a meal she and her husband enjoyed with friends in a fabulous NYC restaurant just before having children. She joked that sometimes we get a bit super spiritual answering these sorts of questions. When I asked if she'd reply with her story when I posted the question on the Facebook page, she teased that she'd probably give the "spiritual" answer which, obviously, involves the Eucharist. I haven't laughed that hard in a long time.
Fair enough: let's keep clear that our so-called spiritual and secular lives are a seamless garment. After all, that's the whole point behind the term "sacramental life". Ordinary, visible things making plain the invisible graces carrying us through the present world.
Which reminds me of something my friend Laurel commented on the Facebook page yesterday. She mentioned some good feasting memories that were a lot about the quality of the food. Then she mentioned a memory where the food was only a side dish to the unforgettable scenery.
I have some great memories like that, as well. And I've added a whole new cache of memory from our trip to Ireland this past summer. And they don't replace some of the simpler meal memories of eating pondside with my family at my grandparents' little cottage. Or the time, mid-July, Brian and I grilled steaks for a dozen family members while we all floated on a motorized raft across an Adirondack lake. Or the time my friends feasted with both food and art for my 38th birthday.
Feasting of any sort is pure gift, don't you think?
What memories do you have of the best-tasting meals of your life?