A friend is in from out of town and I wanted to visit before she left.
“Let’s have breakfast.”
“No can-do on my 10 mile diet, why don’t you come to my house and I’ll make you breakfast?”
But the next moment I was wondering how I could feed someone on limited stores – and no store? Would there be enough? Would it be good enough?
Panic gave way to a sense of privilege and pleasure. To cook for another, to nourish another – that’s just about as human as it come.
Remember that word “cundir” – to make something last? Well I managed to stretch everything by adding potatoes and lots of garden kale to my now customary fritatta and doubling the eggs and we feasted. Actually, I feasted twice. The food and the happiness of feeding another.
I don’t know why I don’t do that anymore. I don’t invite people over for dinner. Am I afraid my food won’t be good enough? Meet some standard? Or that it won’t be enough to satisfy? Or that people expect cookbook recipes and restaurant presentation and I just can’t muster that? Or that my house isn’t perfectly clean? Have I forgotten how, even, having lived alone for half a decade now?
I used to live in a communal household where 8 people at the dinner table was the norm – with guests swelling that to 10 or 12 or even 15. Food just poured out of the kitchen. There was always enough. Yet our per person monthly grocery bill was half what mine is now. I wonder how this 10 mile diet will affect my habit of solo eating – if I will now broaden out again in relational eating to feeding others, to breaking bread. I don’t know what’s gotten into me. Or out of me. Why I eat so often alone. This now seems part of the impersonal food system that permits us to buy and eat food without relating to another soul. I want more soul food.
In the Lakota culture you host a Wopila when you’ve had good fortune. It is a thanking ceremony involving giving beautiful gifts to all the tribe and throwing a huge feast. According to Gilbert Walking Bull – a sweat lodge elder – you do a Wopila to tell the gods thanks for answering your prayers – if you don’t do it, they will hang around and keep giving you what you already have, making mischief in your life.
When my partner Joe died, distraught people came to our home with hot dishes.
When my friend’s son was trekking in Asia and hurt himself, he stumbled into a village where they fed and cared for him. But when he had a bit more strength he realized they themselves were starving. The duty to feed the wanderer was stronger than the need to feed oneself. Realizing this, her son stumbled on the next day so the villagers could eat.
In many cultures we feed the gods before we feed ourselves.
And what about those loaves and fishes. And that bread Jesus called “the body of Christ.” What about that, you solo eater you?
Buying and preparing more local food may be the lesser challenge, actually. Rearranging my life so I am sharing that food with others will take another kind of letting go and another kind of stepping up.
Jeesh, the lessons just keep coming. Awareness, once it starts, keeps scything down the weeds and revealing the deeper contours of one’s life. Humble pie. Daily fare. Now what? Would you like to come to dinner?