FOOD AND FAITH
Sacred stories simmer for future generations
by Derrick Weston | Presbyterians Today
When I came on board as a co-host of the “Food and Faith” podcast, I suggested to my other hosts, Anna Woofenden and Sam Chamelin, that I would love to have more people on the show talk to us about cooking. I wanted to hear how people connected cooking to their values, how the act of cooking can be meditative or reflective, and how people connect or reconnect in the kitchen to deepen family histories or discuss even deeper issues of heritage and race.
Shortly after we had this conversation, Anna got a call from a publisher pitching the idea of a book about how our values might show up in what we cook. Remembering our conversations of a few months back, Anna called me thinking that this might be a project I would want to take on. By the end of our phone call, it was clear that this was a book that the two of us were meant to write together.
“A Just Kitchen,” as we’ve tentatively titled it, is not a cookbook. It’s a book about how the kitchen can be a place of healing and transformation. It’s a book about how cooking can be a sacred act, whether we cook for others or for ourselves. It’s a book that strives to honor the realities that budgets are limited, time is at a premium and sometimes you just don’t want to cook. It’s also a book that will hopefully celebrate the fact that the kitchen is often a place where loving service for our friends and family can best be embodied.
When was the last time you thought about food preparation as a holy act? When was the last time preparing a meal became a time of sacred storytelling? The pandemic gave us an opportunity to be present to the Divine — and one another — while kneading bread or chopping onions.
A study done shortly before the onset of the pandemic showed that Americans are spending less time in their kitchens than ever before. Some of that changed during the early days of the lockdown. We spent more time cooking out of sheer necessity.
If you’re like me, you still have a sourdough starter going from those days. It didn’t take long, though, for DoorDash and the reopening of restaurants to take us out of our kitchens again, away from our opportunities to connect to the past and remember family stories while reading a dog-eared recipe card.
As the world opens again, necessitating the need for quick meals and giving us the luxury of more restaurant visits, I hope that we can see our kitchens as holy spaces.
May we reestablish them as places where we interact with God, Creation and our loved ones. And may we see the kitchen as our laboratory for service, hope and justice.
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