Thursday, January 18, 2007

Breaking bread

I admire people who do beautiful, creative work that no one else will ever see. There's a spiritual purity to it: I imagine Buddhist monks in Nepal, making sand mandalas on windswept mountains. I imagine the Anchorite who careful sets a place at a rustic table before eating a bowl of gruel. I imagine nuns carefully polishing icons that are hidden away in catacombs. And I think, that is so not me.

Sure, the inspiration part comes, the ideals are there, but before I invest any perspiration, I need a little motivation. Like George, I really enjoy cooking and reading recipes, but unlike George I just can't get excited about cooking for myself. Nor do I get excited about mandatory daily mom-style cooking when people would be just as happy, maybe happier, with a box of mac-n-cheese. I'm working on it.

But when the motivation comes, I embrace the opportunity. Give me an occasion, and I'll give you some cooking.

My friend Noelle over at Aguayo Shed became a mother last week, and a group of friends organized to bring the new family dinner each night while they're settling in. ("All aboard the food train! Chew, chew!!!") The previously-mentioned Soup with Ingredients (including kale) was inspired by my turn as conductor on the food train last night. I also enjoyed bringing salad that we (mostly) grew ourselves, and garnishing it with some fresh chive flowers. Presentation is half the fun.

Not only is it fun to cook a special meal, it's fun to share a meal with friends. It's enough to make me rethink the word potluck, which has long been filed in my mind alongside such words as housedress and Schlitz. I'd like to have more excuses to fire up the KitchenAid Professional and make something flashy and ridiculously labor-intensive that can be ooohed and ahhhed over for a few moments before disappearing. I like to oooh and ahhh over friends' cooking. I like meals that are savored as art, celebration, and communion, but I'm not the type to practice rituals in isolation—I need a congregation to infuse them with meaning.

I'll be sad when the food train reaches its stop. And probably a little hungry, too.

1 comment:

Patrick said...

Absolutely. As Marge Piercy praised, it's the work of the world that is admirable. Even philosphers can't admire work done in the forest that no one can hear (or see, or be affected by). It takes a village.

Working on the soul is another matter, but it still defintely helps, may even be necessary, to have one's baby beside the wheel...