Hot sausage and mustard!
While we're in the mood --
Cold jelly and custard!
Peas pudding and saveloys
What next is the question?
Rich gentlemen have it, boys --
Oliver Twist musical
"The way to a man's heart is through his stomach" is an often-quoted proverb, cited since at least the 1820s but not attributed to any particular author. The Wikipedia cites Fanny Fern (1811-1872) as the coiner of the phrase, but her use of it was far from the first.
I think having focused on politics the last two blog entries, I'm going to try something different. I am not a political expert, and I certainly do not wish to devote any more time to the subject of Trump.
So today, I invite you to a virtual poetic feast.
As somewhat of a foodie myself, I look forward to gatherings with family and Friends, and sharing good food. In true British style, I enjoy tea on a regular basis, and the tea pot is always on the brew. When friends drop by, it’s the first thing I think of, even though I have lived in Texas for 35 years!
In England it's unheard-of to visit a friend and not be offered a cup of tea or coffee.
Every family gathering, every celebration, every special occasion usually involves food, and hospitality. In fact I think it is safe to say that every culture on this planet relies on food in order to celebrate special events. Food is used to welcome guests and make them feel special and honored.
There are certain foods that are cooked and presented to celebrate Traditional times of the year, be it Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Chanukah,
in the Western world. Special curries and deserts are served on feast days in Pakistan, Kimchi in Korea, and even Guinea-pigs,(poor little things..), in the Ecuadorian Amazon.
People connect to their cultural or ethnic group through food. Immigrants often use food as a means of retaining their cultural identity. People who come from different cultural backgrounds eat different foods.
One of my favorite things to do since coming to America was to hold and go to Potlucks. These are gatherings, where everyone brings their favorite dish, or a traditional dish from their homeland. It is a way to socialize over food, and get to know people that you otherwise may have never met.
The ingredients, the methods of preparation, preservation techniques, and types of food eaten at different meals vary among cultures.
Even in Europe different provinces have regional specialties. In England each county has a specialty that is based on local availability and traditional preparation. For example, Cornwall has the Cornish pasty, and saffron cake, (which are the first delights I want when I arrive on British soil).
Yorkshire has its famous Black pudding, and Scotland has the Haggis. In America each state has certain foods with which the locals identify, or some kind of recipe that's common to the husbandry of the area.
Texas has long Horn cheddar, Louisiana has Gumbo, New England has Clam chowder, etc. etc.
As far back as history goes man has had celebrations with food, for commemorative occasions, and to welcome guests into their homes.
Apart from being a necessity to survive, food is symbolic in many cultures.
For example, In New Orleans, during Mardi Gras, (which takes place prior to Lent,) King Cake is served. It is colored Purple, Green and Gold, (colors relevant in the Catholic faith), with a little plastic baby in the middle, symbolizing the Christ child. The tradition goes back many centuries, and is a carry-over from the African slaves who had been indoctrinated into Christianity by the Spanish. In fact, there was an interesting mélange of Catholicism and Voodoo in New Orleans, which should be the subject of another fascinating blog.
Krishna’s believe that foods offered to God during preparation become spiritual food for the body. In the Bhagvad-gita, the preparation and significance of food is translated here, (Taken from Bhagad-gita.org)
"Lord Krishna commences with the three-fold divisions of foods with the words ayuh-sattva meaning promoting longevity. Certain foods promote spiritual knowledge and "quality of intelligence". Wisdom verily arises out of sattva guna the mode of goodness. Whereas greed and lust are the by products of raja guna the mode of passion and lethargy and nescience is produced by those in tama guna the mode of ignorance. The word Bala, meaning strength refers to food that gives the power to perform one's duty. Foods that are pleasant to eat, that bestow mental tranquillity, that are sustaining and easily digestible, that are nourishing, and their essence remains invigorating the body even after digestion, are the foods which are dear to those endowed with the qualities of sattva guna. "
In the Christian faith, during the Holy Communion, Christians generally recognize a special personification of Christ during this ceremony. The bread and the wine become the Body and blood of Jesus. According to the New Testament, the ritual was instituted by Jesus Christ during his last Supper. During the Passover meal, Jesus commanded his followers to "do this in memory of me" while referring to the bread as "my body" and the wine as "my blood".
The parable of the Sermon on the Mount is another good example of how food, (the five loaves and the two fishes) became a symbol of spiritual fullness, as opposed to physical satiation.
"Food, far more than sex, is the great leveler. Just as every king, prophet, warrior, and saint has a mother, so every Napoleon, every Einstein, every Jesus has to eat." — Betty Fussell
Inviting A Friend To Supper
Tonight, grave sir, both my poor house and I
Do equally desire your company:
Not that we think us worthy such a guest,
But that your worth will dignify our feast
With those that come; whose grace may make that seem
Something, which else could hope for no esteem.
It is the fair acceptance, Sir, creates
The entertainment perfect: not the cates.
Yet shall you have, to rectify your palate,
An olive, capers, or some better salad
Ushering the mutton; with a short-legged hen,
If we can get her, full of eggs, and then
Lemons and wine for sauce; to these, a coney
Is not to be despaired of, for our money;
And though fowl, now, be scarce, yet there are clerks,
The sky not falling, think we may have larks.
I'll tell you of more, and lie, so you will come:
Of partridge, pheasant, woodcock, of which some
May yet be there; and godwit, if we can,
Knot, rail, and ruff, too. Howsoe'er, my man
Shall read a piece of Virgil, Tacitus,
Livy, or of some better book to us,
Of which we'll speak our minds amidst our meat;
And I'll profess no verses to repeat:
To this, if aught appear which I know not of,
That will the pastry, not my paper, show of.
Digestive cheese and fruit there sure will be;
But that which most doth take my Muse and me
Is a pure cup of rich Canary wine,
Which is the Mermaid's now, but shall be mine;
Of which, had Horace or Anacreon tasted,
Their lives, as do their lines, till now had lasted.
Tobacco, Nectar, or the Thespian spring
Are all but Luther's beer to this I sing.
Of this we shall sup free, but moderately,
And we will have no Pooly, or Parrot by;
Nor shall our cups make any guilty men,
But at our parting we shall be as when
We innocently met. No simple word
That shall be uttered at our mirthful board
Shall make us sad next morning, or affright
The liberty that we'll enjoy tonight.
So Are You To My Thoughts As Food To Life - Poem by William Shakespeare
So are you to my thoughts as food to life,
Or as sweet-seasoned showers are to the ground;
And for the peace of you I hold such strife
As 'twixt a miser and his wealth is found.
Now proud as an enjoyer, and anon
Doubting the filching age will steal his treasure;
Now counting best to be with you alone,
Then bettered that the world may see my pleasure;
Sometimes all full with feasting on your sight,
And by and by clean starvèd for a look;
Possessing or pursuing no delight
Save what is had, or must from you be took.
Thus do I pine and surfeit day by day,
Or gluttoning on all, or all away.
BEAUTIFUL Soup, so rich and green,
Waiting in a hot tureen!
Who for such dainties would not stoop?
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!
Beau- ootiful Soo-oop!
Beau- ootiful Soo-oop!
Soo- oop of the e- e- evening,
Beautiful, beautiful Soup!
Beautiful Soup! Who cares for fish,
Game, or any other dish?
Who would not give all else for two
Pennyworth only of Beautiful Soup?
Pennyworth only of beautiful Soup?
Beau- ootiful Soo-oop!
Beau- ootiful Soo-oop!
Soo- oop of the e- e- evening,
Beautiful, beauti- FUL SOUP!
The way that food is consumed is also very important. “If you cut your potatoes with a knife in Germany, you will insult your hostess. Go ahead and slurp your noodles in Japan – it shows you are enjoying your lunch. In India, you are expected to eat your rice and curry by hand, but using your left hand will disgust your host.”
http://cultureandfood.wordpress.com/tag/eating with hands.
While eating away from home, my parents wanted us to be on our best behavior. Awareness of simple rules of the hosting culture can save you from embarrassment, and from offending your hosts. What is considered polite in one culture is impolite in another. In India, Pakistani, Arab and African cultures, silverware is generally shunned, and eating with your hands is considered polite. Indians eat with their hands because it gives one more of a spiritual connection with the food, and it is considered a peaceful sharing with others.
Before a meal the hands are washed and wiped; and the LEFT hand is never used to eat. It is considered unclean.
According to Vinita Chopra Jacinto who teaches at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, double dipping your bread into a communal dish of food is taboo.
“It is never done,” she cautions. Also, in Indian culture, you are expected to clean your plate. “Grain is so important in India, that not one grain should be left.” This brings up an interesting contradiction: in China, Japan and India, finishing every last grain of rice you are served is proof that you enjoyed the meal. While in Cambodia, Jordan, Egypt and the Philippines, it is more polite to leave a little food on your plate. An empty plate could insult your hosts, implying that they did not serve you enough.
In fact, every culture has specific ways of showing appreciation of the meal. In Saudi Arabia, diners burp after eating to compliment the cook In Hong Kong and Japan, loudly slurping your noodles demonstrates your enjoyment of the food; literally, that it is so delicious you cannot even wait until it cools off."
Passing food from one set of chopsticks to another is “Not done”, in Japan. That is because, during a funeral, the cremated remains of the dead are passed from one relative to another using chopsticks to place into the burial urn.
In England, we hold our forks with our left hand during a main course, and our knife in the right. It is considered “poor breeding” to eat with the fork in the right hand like a spoon, (like the Americans do.:)
Now in our cosmopolitan world, certain rules are more acceptable. But in the days of Downton Abbey, the way a table was laid, how one dressed for dinner, and how one ate, was a class ritual unto itself!
“I eat my peas with honey
I've done it all my life
it makes them taste quite funny
but it sticks them on the knife”
"Food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate." —A lan D. Wolfelt
Mixing proverbial love into food is something that parents do when they welcome family home, and anyone who is passionate about good cooking can understand..
"There is no sight on earth more appealing than the sight of a woman making dinner for someone she loves." — Thomas Wolfe
Like a stereotypical Italian or Greek Mother, coaxing their family to eat, this represents showing love, and is a subject of many movies and books.
In “Like water for chocolate”, a movie that came out in 1992, it explores how food made with love can affect the properties of the food offered.
Tata’s special "gift" is that her emotions work their way into the food she prepares. So the wedding cake she makes for her sister’s wedding to her lover is baked with her tears in the mix. This causes all the guests to weep and pine for their true loves. The quails in rose petal sauce, made with the roses that were a gift from her lover Pedro, become a wildly arousing aphrodisiac.
In “Woman on Top” (2000), Penelope Cruz, plays a woman who conjures up a culinary mix of sensual food and sex when she discovers her husband is having an affair.
In "Chocolat" (2000),
Vianne opens an unusual chocolate shop, where her ability to perceive her customers' desires and stir temptation into her confectionery, coaxes the villagers to lose their inhibitions-- just as Lent begins.
"All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt." ― Charles M. Schulz
Chocolate has become a symbol of love in many cultures, especially in the States and Europe, where it is traditionally given at Valentines. However, one could argue that other foods, no matter how they are prepared, would not be an appropriate gift ( unless perhaps they were picked, like cauliflower, onions or carrots )
Having said that, it seems to be a wonderful tradition here in the States, and in many countries to take food to a house in mourning; before and after a funeral, or during prolonged sickness, so that the persons affected do not need to cook.
I was the recipient of many cookies and delicious home baked meals when I had hip surgery. Flowers are wonderful, but you can't eat them, and I was grateful not to have to stand and prepare food.
Gently stir and blow the fire,
Lay the mutton down to roast,
Dress it quickly, I desire,
In the dripping put a toast,
That I hunger may remove --
Mutton is the meat I love.
On the dresser see it lie;
Oh, the charming white and red;
Finer meat ne'er met the eye,
On the sweetest grass it fed:
Let the jack go swiftly round,
Let me have it nice and brown'd.
On the table spread the cloth,
Let the knives be sharp and clean,
Pickles get and salad both,
Let them each be fresh and green.
With small beer, good ale and wine,
Oh ye gods! how I shall dine.
The Health-Food Diner - Poem by the beloved, late, Maya Angelou
No sprouted wheat and soya shoots
And Brussels in a cake,
Carrot straw and spinach raw,
(Today, I need a steak).
Not thick brown rice and rice pilaw
Or mushrooms creamed on toast,
Turnips mashed and parsnips hashed,
(I'm dreaming of a roast).
Health-food folks around the world
Are thinned by anxious zeal,
They look for help in seafood kelp
(I count on breaded veal).
No smoking signs, raw mustard greens,
Zucchini by the ton,
Uncooked kale and bodies frail
Are sure to make me run
Loins of pork and chicken thighs
And standing rib, so prime,
Pork chops brown and fresh ground round
(I crave them all the time).
Irish stews and boiled corned beef
and hot dogs by the scores,
or any place that saves a space
For smoking carnivores.
"People who love to eat are always the best people." — Julia Child
I will end this blog with a "Bon appetit" to you all.
and a last quote by Lyle Lovett :)
"Barbecue sauce is like a beautiful woman. If it's too sweet, it’s bound to be hiding something."
(I apologize for the random change in type color. For some reason #weebly is not functioning well today!)