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Food as Ritual

July 24, 2007

Why are Thanksgiving and Passover my two favorite holidays?  They both heavily involve food symbolism and sitting around a table talking to friends and family.  This past April, I led a Passover Seder for others, and I was able to watch children delight in flicking the passover wine onto their plates with their finger, to symbolize the 10 plagues brought down on the Egyptians from God.  This was my favorite part of the ceremony as a child, the idea that I could make my clean white plate look like the murder scene of the Egyptians first born.  Beyond the fact I was finally allowed to play with my food, I remember solemnly sensing the weight of these plagues as I covered my plate in bright  splashes of crimson.   I tasted their bitter tears as I dipped parsley in salt water.  Maybe it’s because taste is the strongest of my five senses, but I connected with the story so deeply, it became real to me and I never forgot its meaning. 

 Love Feast– This is a tradition I participated in at camp, where one night, the adults would lay out a three-table feast of finger food, and we would each get a partner, turn out the lights, one partner would close his/her eyes, and the other would feed him/her.  In the sunrise of my puberty, hands shaking, I would tentatively feed my partner harmless grapes, innocent strawberries, and downright scandalous MandM’s.  Due to an overwhelming sense of sexual foreplay, I’ll never remember the spiritual significance of this ritual, but I think it had something to do with the ancient tribe of people who had no elbows and instead of starving they fed each other.  Anyway, it was fun, and I recommend the Love Feast with a close group of friends, as long as you keep the MandM’s out of it.   

Top Chef Party– I must credit a friend with this idea, although I’ve dreamed of doing an Iron Chef party for years.  Later this week, I will attend my second Top Chef party. I have to say there is a sense of trepidation, even fear, among the participants, but I for one am looking forward to it.  As I understand it, we will be assigned partners upon our arrival, and then there will be a quickfire challenge.  Afterwards we will be given our secret ingredient-ala iron chef-and sent to the store, and given a time limit in which to create our dish.  I’ll report back on the logistics and fun factor of this event, but I for one feel ready for the challenge. 

My first Top Chef party resulted in a stress-induced friend-bashing rant that has not quite been forgiven to this day.  Hopefully I won’t take the competition so personally this time.

Holy Sacrament- Never done it, but I approve of the general sentiment.  I heard a joke on the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour about the comic’s Palestinian father who took communion once.  He wanted more salt on his cracker.  The comic told him,

“this is not a snack, it’s the body of Christ.”  His father replied,

“but I think Jesus would have more flavor.”

What are some food rituals from your history or present life?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. queen kirstifa permalink
    August 1, 2007 5:03 am

    New Years Day Recovery party, with the bloody mary bar and the New Yrs Day/comfort food spread! if i have the energy, i want to do this again every year!

  2. Gaber permalink
    August 16, 2007 12:53 am

    I too love Passover and Thanksgiving because of the food involved! My wife and I split the holidays between our families, which is great since both of them love to eat! The other great thing about both holidays is the whole day of preparing the meal. We always have great family fun in preparing the dishes, which also builds the anticipation of the wonderful time we all have at the table.

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