The Feast (II); or: A Story about making Food
Wow. I didn’t think that post would attract that much attention! Thanx to everyone who read it, I hope it makes sense. To me it does, anyway. But on to more important things:
One of the things I like to do most, is to make food, especially with my friends. Wheteher it is a simple BBQ, or if we make biltong potjie, or whether it is a seafood stew – it becomes an event in itself. Eventually it is not about the end product at all, but about the process.
One of my best friends, Shaun, and I like it a lot to experiment. This past week or so in res we were kind of forced to do so, because our dining hall money is finished and therefore we are dependent on either take-aways or Pick ‘n Pay. One can only eat so much take aways, even if there is a lot to choose from, before you get tired of it. And it is expensive. That is why Pick ‘n Pay is a trouble-free option: you can buy some bread with salad, or small packets of veggies,or like we did the past week, tomato and cucumber and mix it in various ways with tuna and rice. Add some lettuce, chilli sauce and tomato sauce and voila! You have a winner. How did that chef on Ratatouille say? “Anyone can cook!” And we are bloody brilliant cooks.
When we have a BBQ, there is always something extra, like Braai Bread (we buy it or make it ourselves) or some corn on the cob or an old favourite, garlic bread. Man, that garlic goes down smoothly…
The biltongpotjie is an endeavour in itself, and no, I’m not giving out the recipe, but the people that have tasted it, know. Just ask the professors at the Theology-potjie competition, or the judges at Asterhof and Kollege’s Pot-and Pons- stall last month.
Making food is fun. Eating is nice. When you do all that together with people whose company you enjoy, it becomes a transcendent experience, almost a spiritual experience.
And the references are not that far fetched. Food and the community surrounding a dinner played an important role in the Evangelical tales of Jesus and His disciples.
In Luke 5 we read about the tax collector, Levi, that held a feast to honour Jesus, one of the occasions where the Pharisees started to moan that He wines and dines with sinners and tax collectors. There are frequent references to food, like in Luke 6 verse 1-5 and later in verse 20-26. When Jesus’ feet were anointed with the oil and the prostitute came and dried it with her hair, He was at dinner with a Pharisee.
Striking also is the multiplication of the bread, with the Matthew-versions that stand out for me. The first one takes place just after Jesus has heard about the death of His cousin, John the Baptist. Look what happens here: Jesus tries to get some alone time, but still the people decide to follow Him. He pities them and heal the sick among them. In the end He provides food to all the people, insomuch that there are baskets full left! (After that the whole walking on water with Peter takes place…)
I can also refer to the wedding in Cana, where Jesus turned the water into wine and, of course, to Zaccheus, another tax collector with whom Jesus dines. It is when Jesus are in community with these people, or rather when they are in community with Him, that their lives are changed.
And then the most important of all: the last supper with His disciples, that eventually becomes a prototype for us of true Christian community. When we eat, we share an experience with other people. We don’t just eat because our bodies need food, we also eat because we enjoy it. It is nice to have a good time with our friends and to make an event of the meal. I’m sure that Jesus intended it that way. Our communtiy around the table can become a metaphor of how we can experience community with Jesus: it is an event. Every meal differs and has different tastes and smells than the previous one. Sometimes it is the same as the one before and it doesn’t taste that nice, but actually it is all about the people we eat with.
Our relationship with Jesus is also new everyday, with different nice and less nice experiences. Sometimes it feels as if there is nothing special, as if things are just always the same, but we shouldn’t forget that it remains a “meal” together with Jesus. He is the One that meets us where we are and that never leaves. He feeds us, provide in our needs so abundant that there remain “baskets full” in the end. Even if we can’t see how it will happen right away.