ISSUE No. 24 | August 2022
If you’re new to CULTIVARE we welcome you! CULTIVARE is a monthly field guide for life and faith, brought to you by TEND. Each month we explore a specific “field” – a topic or theme through which we seek to cultivate contemplation, engagement, and deeper understanding. Our guiding questions are:
What are you cultivating in your life?
What fruit do you want your life to bear?
Each issue of CULTIVARE is structured into three parts:
Cultivate: Examines a specific “Field” or facet of life and offers questions to unearth and challenge our held perspective; along with concise kernels of truth which we call “Seeds.”
Irrigate: Explores the ways we nurture our understanding, which varies from individual to individual. We offer six means of irrigation: Art, Poetry, Profile, Film, Essay, and Books.
Germinate: Encourages practical ways to engage in becoming more fruitful and free in our lives.
Our name, CULTIVARE, in Spanish means “I will cultivate.” We hope each issue of our field guide will encourage you to do just that – cultivate new thoughts, actions, faith, hope, and fruitful living. We invite you to dig in and DIG DEEP!
For we are partners working together for God, and you are God's field.
(I Corinthians 3:9)
Our theme this month is THE TABLE & FOOD. We are embarking on a two-month journey centered on the theme of “The Table” and all that it means and symbolizes to us. This month (Part I) we focus on the joys, gifts, and celebrations we reap through gathering around the table and enjoying delicious and nurturing food and fellowship. We hope this issue leaves your soul nourished and satisfied.
Food was a BIG deal for me growing up with my Italian American mother. I know the same can be true for individuals from various cultural and ethnic traditions. But there is something quite dramatic and larger than life about Italian families and food. My mom was a gifted and creative cook and we ate well. My dad was insistent that we eat our meals around the table, face each other, and talk. Mealtime was for conversation and connecting, not simply consuming. The kitchen was not a filling station in which one primarily refueled. It was a daily call and invitation to communion.
There is a good reason we use the phrase “lay it on the table” – as that is what we routinely do through our mealtimes together. Yes, that means the specific dishes of food being served, but it also means the events of our day, our thoughts and feelings, our frustrations and fears, our questions and hopes. All served with generous helpings of laughter and occasional tears.
My mother was noted for making many excellent foods, but our family’s favorite was likely her pies. I think my mom instinctively knew the insight playwright David Mamet proclaimed: We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie. I cannot recall a time eating pie while stressed. My mother also loved quoting the words of Italian actress Sophia Loren: Everything you see I owe to spaghetti. Ah, the power of pasta!
We owe a lot to the food we ingest and the sustenance it provides. In this issue we feature an illuminating essay by Wendell Berry entitled The Pleasures of Eating. Our profile section highlights Carlo Petrini, founder of the Slow Food Movement. Our Book of the Month features our very first cookbook to be recommended – one that continues to be published after 45 years in print. And our Film section spotlights a 1988 Academy Award winning foreign film classic.
Our hope is that this issue causes you to think more deeply about the food you eat, the manner in which you enjoy meals, and the ways you cultivate connection and communion around a table. May this month’s issue deepen your awareness and understanding of the gifts and graces of God which the Table and food represent. We invite our readers to eat more healthfully, responsibly, communally, and joyfully. May the following Table Grace Prayer penned by Maureen Edwards be an encouragement to you as you gather around the table this month and savor the blessings of food. (DG)
bless our food and drink
our friendship and our laughter
that we may be renewed
in body, mind, and spirit
to work together
for the coming of your kingdom
of justice, love, and peace.
So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God. (Ecclesiastes 2:24 NLT)
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. (Psalm 23:5 NIV)
The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners. (Luke 7:34 NIV)
They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers…. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts. (Acts 2:42,46 NRS)
A handful of quotes to contemplate and cultivate into your life
Food is a gift of God given to all creatures for the purposes of life’s nurture, sharing, and celebration. When it is done in the name of God, eating is the earthly realization of God’s eternal communion-building love. (Norman Wirzba)
The table is a meeting place, a gathering ground, the source of sustenance and nourishment, festivity, safety, and satisfaction. A person cooking is a person giving: Even the simplest food is a gift. (Laurie Colwin)
Eating is so intimate. It's very sensual. When you invite someone to sit at your table and you want to cook for them, you're inviting a person into your life. (Maya Angelou)
If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him – the people who give you their food give you their heart. (Cesar Chavez)
A significant part of the pleasure of eating is in one’s accurate consciousness of the lives and the world from which food comes. (Wendell Berry)
The first supermarket supposedly appeared on the American landscape in 1946. That is not very long ago. Until then, where was all the food? Dear folks, the food was in homes, gardens, local fields, and forests. It was near kitchens, near tables, near bedsides. It was in the pantry, the cellar, the backyard. (Joel Salatin)
When we break bread and give it to each other, fear vanishes and God becomes very close. (Henri J.M. Nouwen)
After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations. (Oscar Wilde)
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. (J.R.R. Tolkien)
The Top Ten
Most Famous Food Paintings
Art has the ability to inspire people. It can make us think, dream, and find new meaning in our lives. It can also make us super hungry. Food paintings and depictions of edible things have been part of famous artworks since the very beginning. From ancient Egyptians carving depictions of crops and breads on tablets, to hyper-realistic grapes painted by Dutch masters, food and art have a long and rich relationship. Click the link below to read Mick Murray’s article from tiqets.com (a travel and culture blog) that features their Top Ten List of the most famous food paintings throughout history. Be sure to watch the accompanying video at the end of the list.
At The Dinner Table With God And My Father
by William Bearhart
What happens when God sits down for dinner?
Do you set the table for two, three or four?
What happens if you only have a loaf of bread
and a one-pound block of butter,
do you ask him to perform a miracle?
What do you do when God puts his hands on the table,
fingers flay, bull and lamb belly up, pink-red palms
asking for forgiveness?
What happens to forgiveness when God is your father
and you discover he’s just a man with two hands—
can a bull and a lamb be still on the tines of a fork?
Or are they votive candles burning on the altar of your plate?
Those paraffin hands, waxwing feathers in prayer.
How else can hope look
if not like a spoon to your lips, a sparrow
with new wings
beating air from the comfort of its perch?
This is how we move forward,
you unclasp your hands and surrender flight
before you pick up the butter knife.
By Brad Keister
Carlo Petrini was born in 1949 in the town of Bra, in a rural region of Italy. Following graduation from the Trento University, and well into adulthood, he followed many different interests, including work as an assistant to the mayor of his hometown (where he has lived all his life), campaigning for the legalization of local radio stations, and launching a local folk music festival.
Petrini’s interests gained an urgent focus in 1986 when he learned of the opening of a McDonald’s establishment near the Spanish Steps in Rome, and he joined others in protest. To him, such a venue removed an essential element of community represented by sharing a meal among family or friends: "Eating is no longer about love, but about consuming fuel...The most important thing about eating is to enjoy the moment of affection between family members, or friends or work colleagues. A civilization that loses this ritual becomes very poor. It's especially important for children to learn again how to experience communal eating."* While others had signs and slogans, Petrini handed out bowls of pasta to observers. In the end, the effort failed to stop McDonald’s, but the idea behind the protest led to his founding, with others, the Slow Food organization (www.slowfood.com).
Since then, Petrini’s focus has expanded beyond how food is consumed, to include how it is produced. In Petrini’s words: "In the past 50 years, food has gone out of your daily life. An agricultural society has become a post-industrial society... I eat, but I don't know what I'm eating. I don't know how it was made or where it has come from."* To counter the notion of food as a commodity, Petrini and Slow Food are emphasizing the role of local farmers.
The Slow Food movement now has more than 80,000 members, and--as befits its purpose--has its focus in local groupings, with an international umbrella, national sections, and then individual cities, and even universities with their own chapters. Members affirm the “Slow Food Manifesto,” which speaks against what they described as a “Fast Life”:
“We are enslaved by speed and have all succumbed to the same insidious virus: Fast Life, which disrupts our habits, pervades the privacy of our homes and forces us to eat Fast Foods. . . A firm defense of quiet material pleasure is the only way to oppose the universal folly of Fast Life. . . May suitable doses of guaranteed sensual pleasure and slow, long-lasting enjoyment preserve us from the contagion of the multitude who mistake frenzy for efficiency. Our defense should begin at the table with Slow Food. Let us rediscover the flavors and savors of regional cooking and banish the degrading effects of Fast Food.”
In recognition of his efforts, Petrini has received several awards, including Time Magazine’s Hero of the Year award, as well as honorary degrees in Europe and the United States.
*Interview with The Independent (UK), 10 December 2006
Brad Keister is a theoretical physicist who has enjoyed successive careers at Carnegie Mellon University and at the National Science Foundation. Now retired from the more formal demands of research and teaching, he lives with his wife Katie (a fiber artist) in the Shenandoah Mountains of Northern Virginia.
Each month we recommend films focused on our theme
The film’s story is set in Denmark in the late 19th century. With the mysterious arrival of Babette, a refugee from France's civil war, life for two pious sisters and their tiny hamlet begins to change. After several years, Babette has convinced the religious community to try something other than boiled codfish and ale bread: a gourmet French meal. Her feast scandalizes the elders, except for the visiting general. Just who is this strangely talented Babette, who has terrified this pious town with the prospect of losing their souls for enjoying too much earthly pleasure? Winner of the 1988 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The film is based on a short story by Karen Blixen, author of Out of Africa. The movie was directed by Gabriel Axel. Danish with English subtitles. Available on various streaming services.
Babette’s Feast is an all-time favorite movie for many film enthusiasts as it addresses the question: What nourishes your soul? It contrasts and conjoins spiritual and sensual beauty. You can explore the symbolism of the film by watching this video produced by The Bible is Art.
City of Gold
City of Gold is about the transformative power of food and food writing and celebrating the places where we live. Documentary film director Laura Gabbert follows Pulitzer Prize winning food critic, Jonathan Gold, around the city he loves (Los Angeles) and revels in the diversity of food choices – from a taco truck and a hot dog stand, to a strip mall joint selling provincial Chinese food, to a luxury restaurant serving the latest of haute cuisine. Gold’s work reveals an appreciation not only for the food served but also the diversity of cultures that comprise the City of Angels. Available on various streaming services.
Feast is a 2014 Disney animated film that tells the story of one man’s love life as seen through the eyes of his best friend and dog, Winston, and revealed bite by bite through the meals they share.
Food is a Family Heirloom
What are the family food rituals that have made you, you? And what happens when they disappear? Suresh Doss, a food writer based in Toronto, Canada, explores the importance of food, family, and connection.
The Pleasures of Eating
By Wendell Berry
Introduction by Alice Waters
Our kitchens and other eating places more and more resemble filling stations,
as our homes more and more resemble motels.
In this 2019 article from Emergence Magazine, author Wendell Berry begins by explaining that “After I have finished a lecture on the decline of American farming and rural life, someone in the audience has asked, ‘What can city people do?’ “Eat responsibly,” I have answered. Of course, I have tried to explain what I mean by that, but afterwards I have invariably felt that there was more to be said than I have been able to say. Now I would like to attempt a better explanation.”
In this illuminating and insightful article, Berry offers seven (7) specific things we can do as individuals disconnected from the sources of our food supply and ignorant of the political, economic, esthetic, and ethical systems from which we obtain our food.
Each month we recommend a book (or two) focused on our theme
(World Community Cookbook)
Doris Janzen Longacre
When first published in 1976, More-with-Less Cookbook by Doris Janzen Longacre struck a nerve with its call for every household to help solve the world food crisis. Now nearing one million copies around the globe, it has become the favorite cookbook of many families. Full of recipes from hundreds of contributors, More-with-Less Cookbook offers suggestions "on how to eat better and consume less of the world's limited food resources." The 40th Anniversary edition, published in 2016, does not including new recipes, but it does include a new introduction and updated statistics with food costs and nutritional information for today's generations.
Kevin Noble Maillard & Juana Martinez-Neal
Told in lively and powerful verse by debut author Kevin Noble Maillard, Fry Bread is an evocative depiction of a modern Native American family, vibrantly illustrated by Pura Belpre Award winner and Caldecott Honoree Juana Martinez-Neal.
Practical suggestions to help you go deeper into our theme
1. QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
Devote some time and thought to these reflective questions about your view of food:
a. What is your favorite food? How often do you eat it?
b. Have you tried growing your own food? How did it go?
c. Who is the best cook in your family? What foods do they prepare well?
d. Which culture’s food, apart from your own, do you really like?
e. Who are the individuals you most enjoy gathering around a table and sharing a meal?
f. In what ways do you engage with food in healthy ways? In unhealthy ways? What new approaches to food would you like to take going forward?
2. THE IMPORTANCE OF EATING TOGETHER – The Atlantic
Family dinners build relationships, and help kids do better in school. . . How then do we eat better, not just from a nutritional perspective, but from a psychological one as well?
3. THE DINNER TABLE AS A PLACE OF CONNECTION, BROKENNESS, AND BLESSING by Barry D. Jones
Sharing tables is one of the most uniquely human things we do. No other creature consumes its food at a table. And sharing tables with other people reminds us that there’s more to food than fuel. We don’t eat only for sustenance.
View Now »
4. PRO CHEFS SHARE THEIR TOP RESTAURANT KITCHEN TIPS – Bon Appetit
Join Brad Leone, Gaby Melian, Molly Baz, Chris Morocco, Alex Delany, Priya Krishna, Carla Lalli Music and Claire Saffitz for another episode of Test Kitchen Talks. In this episode, they break down all the techniques they've each learned working in restaurants.
5. PRAYER FOR FEASTING
May this feast be an echo of that great
Supper of the Lamb,
A foreshadowing of the great celebration
That awaits the children of God
Where two or more are gathered,
O Lord, there you have promised to be,
And here we are.
And so, here are you.
Take joy, O King, in this our feast.
Now you who are loved by the Father
Prepare your hearts and give yourselves wholly
To this celebration of joy, to the glad company
Of saints, to the comforting fellowship of the
Spirit, and to the abiding presence of Christ
Who is seated among us both as our host
And as our honored guest, and still yet
As our conquering king.
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the
Holy Spirit, take seat, take feast, take delight!
(Adapted from Every Moment Holy by Douglas Kaine McKelvey)
But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.
(Jeremiah 17:7-8 NIV)
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Images used in order of appearance:
1. FIELD: Duane Grobman, Crates of Apples, 2017, Santiago de Compostela, Spain
2. SEEDS: Duane Grobman, Verde Veggies, 2017, Santiago de Compostela, Spain
3. ART: Duane Grobman, Five Fruits, 2017, Santiago de Compostela, Spain
4. POETRY: Duane Grobman, The Table’s Ready, 2017, Westhampton, Massachusetts
5. PROFILE: Duane Grobman, Fruit, Nuts, and Veggies, 2017, Santiago de Compostela, Spain
6. FILM: Duane Grobman, Sausage with Cheese, 2017, Santiago de Compostela, Spain
7. ESSAY: Brian Bakke, You Scream, I Scream, We All Scream For Ice Cream, 2011, Chicago, Illinois
8. BOOKS: Duane Grobman, Broccoli and Bananas, 2017, Santiago de Compostela, Spain
9. DIG DEEPER: Brian Bakke, Spice of Life, 2011, New York City, New York
10. ROOTED: Duane Grobman, Bread and Wine with a Twist, 2020, Phoenix, Arizona
TEAM CULTIVARE: Duane Grobman (Editor), Lori Andrews, Elizabeth Bolsinger, Billy Brummel, Ben Hunter, Eugene Kim, Andrew Massey, Rita McIntosh, Jason Miller, Jason Pearson (Design: Pearpod.com)