A Secular Sacrament

asecularsacramentI have been in a huge cooking rut lately. I am tired of everything that I know how to make, and my Pinterest recipe explorations have sometimes been met with sighs and groans from the family. When I first started working at a library several years ago I was a little shocked that cookbooks were some of the most popular items that we loaned out. That was pre-husband and pre-kids. It turns out that these people have to eat every day.

So food has been on my mind of late. I listened to Father Leo Patalinghug on the Journey Home podcast a few days ago as I was shamefully making a McDonald’s run. He painted this idyllic image of a family carefully cooking and eating together with gentle gratitude for the food being served. My family does eat together every day, but often it’s hurried and fractured by infant screams.

I’m so intrigued by the French way of eating. The careful attention to the food and a table hung with linen and fine dishes and cutlery. Apparently people eat like that over there. I’ve read multiple books about French culinary culture over the years. The entire idea of two-hour lunches with multiple courses strikes me as exhausting, but I would like to introduce some new meals and vegetables into our rotation.

frenchThis book came home with me during my latest library trip. I am hoping to get some pointers about how to get my two year old to eat new foods. It’s turning into quite a fascinating read actually, because on top of the various food rules the author (Canadian) talks about her year in France with her French husband and two picky eaters.

There is one scene in which the author is playfully arguing with some French friends about the merits of France’s food culture. As an explanation one of the friends tossed out that the country’s traditions springs from religion, “Catholic countries have always been more interested in food. French gastronomie is like a secular communion, like a sacrament or a ceremony.”

This strikes me as true and important. Also intriguing. I think about the way Oliver and I are divided over the issue of religion, and I may never share any sacrament with him other than our daily meals taken together. That alone is good reason to take a lot more care about what we eat together as a family. I don’t know whether or not Jesus was a great cook, but he certainly seemed to enjoy eating!

Feeling inspired, I just placed a few cookbooks on hold at the library to hopefully get some new recipes and ideas! A library book and a copy machine is a powerful thing.