This prompt comes from Kat (@kljwm), who I started following this summer because she is another Twin Cities runner. She is remarkably funny, and never hesitates to tell it like it is at her blog, Tenaciously Yours. Her Reverb posts have been insightful and beautiful and are definitely worth the read.
Hopefully you have had more than one spectacular meal in 2012, but what is the first that comes to mind? Were you surrounded by family at the dining room table? Sitting on a bench by the lake? Bring us there.
There have been a handful of memorable meals this year– a romantic Valentine’s dinner at Meritage in St. Paul where Aaron first told me he wanted to marry me (then made me wait 6 long months for the proposal), a sunset dinner in Florida with the type of friends that just know you, a hot dog and beer at Minnesota Twins Opening Day, and of course, the feast that could have been.
And this is the part where I speak unrelenting about the significance of breaking bread with others. We might say that food is an important part of many cultures and many of us in the Midwest make special foods that tie us to our cultural heritage, like lefse for the Nords. I think, though, we are mistaken and are inserting “food” where “dining together” or “breaking bread” together out to be.
Food is an important part of culture.
Dining together is an important part of culture.
We use sharing a meal to celebrate. We use sharing a meal to grieve. We share a meal to get to know someone– you ask a new coworker to lunch, you take a first date out to dinner. Anyone who says that sharing meal times is not important to our social growth and health, or to developing a welcome community does not remember the fear you had in middle school that none of your friends would be in the same lunch period as you.
We easily forget that dining together is important and fixate on food is important and extend that to and the plate set I use is important and my matching servingware is important and we fuss about the event of serving food, rather than the event of sharing a meal. Why do we do this? Why do we feel so compelled to impress people who are already our friends?
My spectacular meals in 2012 would seem, to most, to be anything but. Every so often, Aaron and I travel to Decorah, Iowa where he went to college and where one of his very closest friends lives with his wife. Often these trips include one or two other couples, all people Aaron also went to college with. They enjoy being together and they enjoy being back in Decorah, which plays host to several charming and moving and mostly funny stories of their young adulthood. Everyone brings food to share– one couple homemade breads and chocolates, another cheeses and fruit, we often bring gifts of Twin Cities craft beer. We huddle around the coffee table in the living room, with just enough seating, but still cozied and close. Wine glasses are filled, the cheese is laid out, and we just talk. About everything– what we have been up to since we last met, reminiscing, looking forward to future adventures, every topic is fair game.
We laugh… a lot. And I think we learn a lot about one another, which is especially important to me as the most recent new-comer to the group. And when I think of what feast should be about, this is what I think. Not matching napkins, not perfectly paired wines, not even plates- any plates- most of the time. We bring food not to fill our bellies, but as a tangible token of the friendship we hope to be filled with. This is what it means to feast, spectacularly.