When Food is Sacramental: elevating a simple meal to haute cuisine

 But they urged him, saying, “Stay with us. It’s nearly evening, and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. After he took his seat at the table with them, he took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Their eyes were opened and they recognized him,

Luke 24:29-31
– Trigger fish and squash casserole

This is a good day to talk food. Especially the idea of food as something that brings people together. There is good reason dinner parties come up so often in the gospel accounts of how Jesus went about engaging with people. The Great Teacher knew that the intimacy that comes quite naturally with breaking bread together tends to open people up, lay their souls bare, and invite them into relationship.

This is why it was so meaningful for Rebekah and I to get out together Tuesday evening, for our first dinner date since her accident. We cashed in a couple of gift cards and enjoyed a stress-free dinner at Carrabba’s Italian Grill.

“We have spent a good amount of time in Italy,” we told our waiter, “and Carrabba’s is one of the few places that gets it right. Thank you.

– calamari

That meant bread right from the oven, amazing calamari (fresh, hot, crisp, and tender), an excellent Caesar salad, primo lasagna, delectable Spaghetti Primavera (with sautéed red bell peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, peas and roasted tomatoes, white wine lemon butter sauce and wood-grilled shrimp), excellent coffee, and killer (I mean exactly that) Cannoli Cake (Vanilla cake with layers of cannoli filling topped with a mini cannoli, pistachios and chocolate sauce, with a chocolate chip crust).

Rebekah and I needed the particular focus of a date, a night out. Food is just food sometimes. But in the right context, food nourishes relationships; food can be sacramental.

Food with Friends:

So the wide variety of ways people have taken care of us since Rebekah’s accident has been wondrous. From prayer and cards to delivering a hot meal to prepackaged frozen to hosting to gift cards to Grubhub to so much more.

-Rebekah, Leslie, Scott

As Rebekah heals so our flexibility (and adaptability and mobility) has followed suit. Wednesday evening, then, rather than thanks and a short visit, we were able to sit down with our friends Scott and Leslie, and share the beautiful meal they had provided around the table.

Just as food is more than just food in the intimacy of a date, food becomes a feast when it is served with love and shared with friends.

– Derek Maul photographs life, and writes about faith and food in NC

This is an aspect of blogging about food that I will always stress. Context is everything, and love elevates even the simplest of meals to – in effect – Haute cuisine.

Haute is not so much fine wine as fine company, not attention to detail but attention to relationships, not expensive so much as expansive.

May the grace of such elevated food experiences mark all of our lives – DEREK

photos: first, dinner with Leslie and Scott; then, images from Carrabba’s

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