I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. – Ecclesiastes 3:12-13
- Koinonia (κοινωνία) koinəˈnēə – noun: Greek word meaning community (or, “participation, communion, fellowship, intimate spiritual communion, participative sharing in a common spiritual community”).
- Lasagna – ləˈzänyə – noun: Italian word meaning community (or, “baked Italian dish consisting of wide strips of pasta cooked and layered with meat or vegetables, cheese, and tomato sauce”).
- Food – noun: English word meaning community (or, “any nutritious substance absorbed in order to maintain life and growth”).
- Wake Forest Presbyterian Church – noun: A place where community, food, communion, koinonia, nourishment, life, growth, and – when we’re lucky – lasagna, all mean the same thing.
This isn’t really an exclusively “foodie” post. If it was, then I’d simply feature photographs of my recent culinary triumphs and leave it at that. Like, for example, “Exhibit A” here, the kind of lunch Rebekah gets when she’s able to make it home in the middle of the day, featuring fresh North Carolina tomatoes that cover entire sandwiches with just one slice.
It’s entirely possible that I come up with lunch plates like this classic BLT just to increase the likelihood of lunch together. But I really don’t need to try that hard because lunch at home (plus being invested in this community) is one of the reasons we found a house this near to our church.
Koinonia (κοινωνία) koinəˈnēə – noun
Rebekah and I have been involved with the koinonia dinners here at WFPC ever since we arrived. Koinonia provides the perfect opportunity to sit down with six or eight people and spend a relaxed evening getting to know one another more deeply.
It was our turn to host and this time I created a lasagna from scratch… including making my own pasta and cutting the lasagna noodles. It’s the first time I have used the lasagna attachment on my pasta machine, and I’m extremely happy with the results.
The meat sauce is beyond amazing. It starts with chopping then sautéing onions, garlic, carrots, celery, and pancetta, and then just gets better and better as the (long but delicious with many more ingredients) process evolves! The meat sauce takes around three hours to make, and I prepare the béchamel (whisking hot milk into a flour and butter roux) at the same time. Both sauces are then enriched with heavy cream.
When the lasagna is assembled it’s a layer of meat sauce, topped with a layer of grated mozzarella, followed by a layer of pasta, then next a layer of béchamel, finally covered in grated parmesan. Then, starting with another layer of the meat sauce, the five steps are repeated.
We served the lasagna with garlic bread and a delicious caesar salad created by Trish and David. The meal, plus the appetizers and then Kathy and George’s unbelievable cake for dessert, was an unqualified success. But then time spent together with friends from our church family is always a beautiful example of what community was intended to be when God created the idea, and invited human beings to share in the joy. Koinonia would be great with hot dogs and chips… but I put in the extra effort because I honestly enjoy sharing goodness with people I love.
time spent together with friends from our church family is always a beautiful example of what community was intended to be when God created the idea, and invited human beings to share in the joy.
This is exactly why we exist; in order to experience community with God… and also with one another. And if we get to experience this blessing in the context of lasagna – then it’s even better.
Like I said… Lasagna – ləˈzänyə – noun: Italian word meaning community.
(the photos will talk through the process)
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there's always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor's degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men's Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.