Food to a large extent is what holds society together and eating is closely linked to deep spiritual experiences.
Consuming Passions: The Anthropology of Eating
In our day-to-day life, we most often act as though we consider food to be mere fuel for our body. We search for quick fixes - very quick recipes, fast foods or ready-made dishes. It's only when we step out of those entrenched patterns and plan for special celebrations that our lackadaisical relationship with food has the opportunity to be transformed. At these special points in time, we are ready to bring greater awareness or attention to our food.
This is what I find exciting about this time of the year. Many spiritual and religious traditions converge and we embark on a long festive season. It’s as though the depth of the dark is calling us to gather together, light candles, share stories while eating good food. Invariably, food finds itself at the heart of these get-togethers. These celebratory occasions provide us with an opportunity to (re)gain a sense of reverence towards food.
These moments are precious. As Farb and Armelagos argue, “eating [with loved ones in particular] is closely linked to deep spiritual experiences.” A friend of mine told me a beautiful story about the special celebrations her family held at her grandfather’s home. They would bring out their most precious china, cooked festive dishes and served the food in a ritualized rhythm that clearly illustrated these were magical moments. Everything revolved around the food. The anticipation, the smells, the textures, the tastes and the conversations made for a spiritual experience, full of awe and reverence.
Unfortunately, these opportunities dissipate quickly outside of these unique moments and so does our reverence towards food.
Stay tuned later this week for the last installment of this post.