Lip-smacking foods, shared celebrations

Post 30/2022 Saturday 17 December . . . Sixteen million. That’s the estimated number of baguettes produced daily in France. The French baguette has gained UNESCO heritage status. It’s been added to UNESCO’s “intangible cultural heritage” list. The list includes some 600 other items. A recent BBC story quotes UNESCO chief Audrey Asoulay: “The baguette is a daily ritual, a structuring element of the meal, synonymous with sharing and conviviality.”

Not included on this list is the Cornish pasty. Fear not, it was included on the European Union list when the UK was part of that body and is now recognized via the UKs own protection. According to the Cornish Pasty Assocation, a genuine Cornish pasty can only be made in Cornwall to the traditional recipe. The pasty is found in almost every village and every high street in Cornwall. For details, look up the Cornish Pasty Association website.

The UNESCO list includes Turkish coffee culture and tradition; Traditional Mexican cosine–ancestral, ongoing community culture, the Michoacán paradigm; Mediterranean diet; and Neapolitan Pizza.

If I had my druthers, I’d also add the UK’s sticky toffee pudding and fish and chips to the heritage list.

A neighbor baked goodies for neighboring households. We were able to share some with dinner guests. Goodness all around.

I’ve been catching up on reading. In recent weeks I came across the July 8 issue of Anabaptist World. (Friends share their copies with us.) This issue featured “FOOD More than sustenance.”

Among the articles I found two written by friends who have a serious culinary turn. Marlene Kropf wrote “Francesco’s Eucharist.” It’s an account of a sumptuous Italian feast in Rome. The community that had invited Marlene and Stanley on this day prepared a meal for the homeless community. One guest in particular, Francesco, Marlene recounts, “feasted richly on the bread of life and drank liberally of the cup of joy.”

She concludes, “Since that day, I remember Francesco at the communion table. Yes, I continue to remember Jesus’ life, death and resurrection in the meal Christians share. But in so doing, I want especially to be awake to the scents and taste and texture of the meal. I want to know the gladness of the hungry in being invited to an abundant table. Among those longing for life, I want to experience the miracle of dying and rising on any ordinary day.”

In another feature, Love Made Edible, Willard E. Roth notes that “Luke paints a simple picture of daily routine after Pentecost, ‘Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts’ (Acts 2:46).

Willard writes: “Christians remembered and met their Lord around tables: This was the heart of their worship in the first three centuries. Sharing food symbolizes sharing of life, nourishing our bodies and our relationships.”

In reviewing his almost fourscore and ten years, Willard notes he finds “no better words to sum up the rich goodness of these decades: Sharing food with a glad and generous heart.”

We recently made the recipe for Hawkeye Corn and Chilies Chowder from Willard’s labor of cooking love as author of Mennonite Men Can Cook, Too (Good Books, 2015). Delicious, lip-smacking delicious, though dealing with roasting and peeling the Poblano chilies took a bit of skill and time. Willard invited 11 friends to add their own recipes and cooking narratives. I was privileged to be one of those friends.

Thank you, Marlene and Willard. It was a delight to be reminded of the times we have dined at your tables.

Birthdays

Marty and I had BIG birthdays this year, celebrated far and wide.

In September we met for a chef-prepared lunch (below) at the home of my brother and sister-in-law, Mark and Christa, in Ontario. Unbeknown to us, my sister Kaye had sent invitations to 80 other folks to come for an afternoon visit. We had no inkling of that plan. More than 40 were able to come–so good to reconnect with so many.

In early September some of Marty’s nieces and nephews gathered for a party at the home of Jan and John Schwartz near Sturgis, Michigan. Marty’s sister Doris, in healthcare, was able to attend and enjoy the party.

More celebration

Birthdays

Birthdays. They come and go. The moments that mark the special day are like a very brief pause, then time flows on. The day may be likened to a sheep getting sheared. It’s stripped of its annual growth of wool and, presto, released to a freeing leap into the fresh breeze.

How might I apply that to myself? How about looking at my birthday as being sheared of the accumulations of the past year and “leaping” into the freshness of the new? Wow. Maybe.

It’s been a long stretch from that auspicious day a bit more than 80 years ago that I “leaped” into the hands of the midwife and house-calling doctor.

The classic French-style brick farmhouse was home to my parents, toddler brother, great-grandmother, maternal grandparents, and four uncles. I doubt whether there was room in the home for a Christmas tree. In fact, the religious leaders of the day forbid Christmas trees.

It was wartime in Europe, rationing was in force in Canada, but the home larder was filled produce from the garden and orchard, with other food stuffs from the cows, chickens, and home butchering. My parents would wait a few years before moving to our own farm.

Fourscore years later, I’m mindful of the hymn Robert Lowry wrote in 1869, My Life Flows On. Stanza 4: “The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart, a fountain ever springing! All things are mine since I am his! How can I keep from singing? No storm can shake my inmost calm while to that Rock I’m clinging. Since Love is lord of heav’n and earth, how can I keep from singing?”

There’s newness, and freshness, and gladness about, breaking “Through all the tumult and strife. . .” (stanza 2), the cautions and cares, the dross and mundane—the physical and mental “baggage” we’d rather carry than have sheared away.

For what lies ahead, I claim the words of Julian of Norwich, printed on the mug from which I’m drinking coffee, “All shall be well – and all shall be well – all manner of thing shall be well”.

Julian of Norwich (1343 – after 1416) was an English mystic and anchoress who wrote Revelations of Divine Love. I don’t know why she used the singular “thing” rather than plural “things.” Maybe it’s the profound singularity her terminology implies. All things temporal and spiritual are a thing in the love of God

Happy / Merry Christmas

This seal from Seal Beach, California, is one of the ornaments on our tree. It’s a happy reminder of time spent with friends–in person and via other media. Well wishes for a healthy, happy, and peace-filled Christmas and New Year!

-John

4 thoughts on “Lip-smacking foods, shared celebrations

  1. John: I enjoyed reading about the birthday festivities of the year for both of you — congratulations! I was also surprised to bump into words penned last summer by Willard and me. I’m grateful for the memories of so many glorious meals shared together!

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  2. Words woven together to form a sentence is purely magical. I loved how Marlene recounts “feasted richly on the bread of life and drank liberally of the cup of joy.”
    How profound.
    Yes it’s been a good year and we have so much to be thankful for. A wait for these blogs and then eagerly pass them on to friends.

    Like

  3. Words woven together to form a sentence is purely magical. I loved how Marlene recounts “feasted richly on the bread of life and drank liberally of the cup of joy.”
    How profound.
    Yes it’s been a good year and we have so much to be thankful for. A wait for these blogs and then eagerly pass them on to friends.

    Like

  4. Thanks, John. Good to read about your mutual birthday celebrations! All of us except Ginger are now octogenarians! She has 4 more years to go.

    We frequently sing “My life flows on” as well as “ Julian of Norwich”. We have settled into our winter home and we are enjoying being here. Soon you will be heading to Cornwall. Wishing you Christmas blessings and Happy Trails in the New Year!

    Love, Monty & Ginger

    May the God of Wonder be with you, delighting you with the beauty of sunrise and the majesty of sunset, with the song of the bird and the fragrance of the flower.                                                                    —Maxine Shonk, OP      
    

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