October 30, 2020

Spirit of Food

Food is not a main event. Food is part of a ceremony.


Throughout the course of history, Earth's harvest has been celebrated with ceremonies of giving thanks. In ancient civilizations many believed that their crops either contained spirits or they were blessings of gods. Greeks participated in Thesmophoria, an autumn sowing festival of 3 days, in the honor or Demeter, the goddess of growth and life, who according to mythology gave the gift of agriculture to mankind and every year after reunion with her daughter, Persephone, blessed their crops.

The Romans celebrated similarly in honor of Ceres (Demeter) around October with music, games and sports. The Hebrews have been celebrating Sukkoth, a harvest celebration commemorating the Israelite's 40 years wandering in the desert. This festival is over 3000 years old in tradition and last for a week.

The Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated in China, Taiwan, Vietnam, and the Philippines. It is also known as the Moon festival or "Moon cake" festival where family members share mooncakes with one another, symbolizing their family unity and offerings are made to various lunar deities.

The ancient Egyptians celebrated their harvest festival in spring, in honor of Min, God of Vegetation and Fertility. Mehregan originated in ancient Persia. The word “Mehr” meaning kindness, is a celebration of friendship and togetherness as well as harvest.

Cooking is a holistic process of planning, preparing, dining and sharing food. I place food at the center of our humanity, as it nourishes not only our physical bodies but also our emotional and spiritual lives. Food is truly a cultural phenomenon that informs our traditions and our relationship with the earth. I genuinely believe that food connects us all.

Eric Ripert - Chef

The rhythm of the harvest

Over the years, some festivals lost popularity, and in the age of round-the-clock and round-the-year food availability, many of us have lost touch with the rhythm of the harvest. Thanksgiving, in our culture is often overshadowed by Black Friday deals, consumption and shopping.

Harvest festivals today can be found at various seasons in different parts of the world, largely dependent on geography, climate with foods that are drawn from crops that come to maturity around the time of the festival.

It's not hard to see that in every culture, food has long played a dual physical and spiritual role. Connecting with food means a connection with source. The source being earth, being spirit and sharing of gratitude and abundance.

I'm just someone who likes cooking and for whom sharing food is a form of expression.

Maya Angelou

When we gather around our tables during special events, holidays and with guests, it is in the spirit we gather. We gather in the spirit of thanksgiving, spirit of love or friendship.

Even when you sit down to have a meal by yourself or grab a snack for yourself, is an opportunity to reconnect with your body. Yet, how many of us simply consume our food while skimming through twitter or Facebook? When a couple sits across the table in a restaurant and barely make eye contact while eating, they are generally unaware that they are both loosing out on the most basic form of ancient connection.

So may of us fall into this trap of becoming consumers as opposed to living up the the full potential of who we really are. We should never give into complacency and convenience when it comes to food. Remind yourself at every opportunity when you lift the food to your mouth, this is a blessing, to gather in the spirit of abundance and kindness around breakfast, lunch or dinner tables.

Every occasion should give a chance to connect and share because there will come a day when we do not get to share any more.

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