i’m not sure why, but i’ve been on a recent spree of reading books involving food. there were several posts re: In Defense of Food (Pollan). Not on purpose, i’m now following up with Miriam’s Kitchen by Elizabeth Ehrlich. I began with the recommendation of one of my favorite authors, Lauren Winner, a converted-to-orthadox-Judiasm- converted-christian and she has a very enlightening take on tradition, practices and rhythms of the spiritual life. (read up: Girl Meets God)
Ehrlich opens: “Something more is calling. It is of the past, it embodies tradition, yet tradition is only the vehicle. It is of the heart, but it is more than diffuse sentiment… It is more than the preservation of an empty vessel. It is the conviction, deep and unspoken, that ritual, the vessel, contains a precious substance, though I cannot name it. My ignorance is my problem, not that of the vessel.”
Pollan exposed me to the realization that I do not eat what my mother was raised on, nor on what her mother was raised on. My son is being raised on yet another version of “food” (though i’m trying to bring it closer to 2 generations ago). I had never really thought about that. Ehrlich is taking what Pollan broke open and is smearing it all over the room. The people of her story, the women in the orthodox kitchens of generations and generations, do not have this issue. The egg salad remains the same.
So i’m inclined to ask something much more about the nature of food and eating, which several authors and one preacher has laid a few seeds: is food more than the lump sum of the calories and nutrients (be it organic or not)? Isn’t food an experience that goes beyond consumption?
we live in a very consumeristic culture. beyond food, we’re trained to consume, sometimes to the point of regurgitation. rarely are we encouraged or inclined to create. but food, especially that coming from Miriam’s Kitchen, has been carefully created, carrying with it an essence that is beyond mere caloric value. the question was posed to me this past lent: what can i consume less to create more?
i think i’m finding one answer in my kitchen. maybe it’s not just what you find in my cupboards, but how i fashion them into a meal. and then how that meal is served. and the nature of the conversation while it is being enjoyed. a few less boxes of packaged hamburger helper is a great start, but i think it’s the creation of something beautiful with the home grown tomatoes and the grass fed beef that might be what i’m craving. the ingredients… they’re a vessel holding something rich that is yet unnamed but begining to brim to the top.
may the cup overflow.