This time of the year everything is running at maximum speed, our schedules, classes, jobs, and our appetites. I feel as if my own appetite for delicious food increases in proportion to the cold weather as the days get shorter and my desire for warmth gets bigger.
Warmth for me includes a busy kitchen and a house full of my roommates (and best friends) ready to be my taste-testers, critics, and supporters. As a Religious Studies major, I have been studying the intersection between food and faith for the last three years. I’ve always loved food (let’s be honest, who doesn’t), but after coming to Rhodes and learning about the problems and specifics of our food system in America, my vague interest in food became an academic pursuit. I was able to study things such as vegetarianism throughout the Christian church, the way that religious institutions use food in ministry programs, and most recently, I’ve had the opportunity to study life around the table.
A recent community dinner with some wonderful Rhodes professors: Dr. Thomas, Dr. Maddox, and Dr. White. (Anyone want to sponsor a GoPro, so we can take professional selfies?)
What a wonderful phrase, life around the table. This has been one of the most tangible ways that I have seen community acted out in our Ruka, as we have hosted friends, strangers, professors, and neighbors around our table. We have welcomed them into our kitchen, our dining room, even the coffee table in our living room, each time thrusting food into people’s hands, asking them over and over if they want more to drink, if they’ve had their fill of whatever we were serving that day.
There is nothing more satisfying than feeding someone. I’m not sure if that is the part of me that has always wanted to be an Italian grandmother, but to feed someone is to act out hospitality in a way that is tangible and accessible for the group of college kids that we are.
When my roommates wonder why I’m making another pie crust, baking another cake, or seeing how many vegetables I can use up in one recipe, what I have a hard time explaining is how giving food to them is a way I’m showing love, a way that I’m reaching out to them on the most basic of levels. To feed, and to have them enjoy it, is something that brings me joy; it feels as if I’m sharing with them something that goes beyond words. They get a glimpse into my day, aka why I chose to bake enchiladas/roast veggies/cook yet another serving of rice, or they might see that I’m stressed and resorted to chocolate for dinner. It’s a moment to stop in our busy days, and catch up, to discuss what’s going on in our lives and take care of our bodies at the same time. A way to share life.
So, here’s to many more moments of life lived around the table…or the kitchen counter, or the dining room, or the breakfast nook, or even the couch when all we want to do is curl up with a bowl of cereal and a friend to talk to. It is during the moments of sharing life in the kitchen, around the table, and in the everyday routine, that the hospitality of the Ruka is most visible to me, and I hope, to others as well.
Our recent s’mores night at the Ruka, Abbey and Sarah hard at work making some delicious noms. *Photo cred to Iris.