I find it incredible that a daily practice can inform our maturity as much as fuel our bodies.
Food use to represent the core reason for our human adaptation, and it possibly still does, although we tend to draw in other variables like the modern medical system and the corporate nature of things a bit too much. We still mold ourselves around one of our most essential substances, much like a claustrophobic kid playing hide and seek. We play the game the modern way, but maybe we aren’t exactly comfortable doing it.
We hosted a small backyard gathering this past weekend. The menu was simple, southern and well accompanied with appropriate beverages. Fire stood at the heart of it all. A dutch oven recipe for Chicken alongside a pile of home-made sausage from our home-grown pig. Indoors, the oven brimmed over with bourbon glazed parsnips and carrots while Emily tossed what might be the most delectable Kale salad anyone has ever tried.
It starts with the Kale.
That is a nasty vegetable. On the surface it seems inedible, and when you spray water on it, it sheds beads better than Rain-X. It’s stiff and bitter. What makes us think we can eat it? But we adapt. Add a bit of sweet to counteract the bitterness, and some vinegar to act as a catalyst. Salt and pepper train the spice towards something more natural and the olive oil actually adheres to the slick surface. Cut it into bite sized strips and voila, you have converted something strange into something wonderful! Isn’t that a beautiful part of being human?
Round 2: Dutch oven. We only have 1, and the recipe requires more. Take a massive skillet, follow the same principle of design with Tin Foil, and you have a second tool to use. The corporate mentality tells us to buy another one, or choose a different recipe, but we have been inventing far longer than we have been buying. Coals, heat, brine and birds. Iron, foil, hot pads and a poking stick. It doesn’t take much to make.
Final straw: it’s hard to party in the backyard in the rain. Yep. It poured. A mad dash brought everyone and every thing into the back of the house. Fortunately the cooking had completed 2 minutes prior, so we had sustenance. We crammed in the tables and scoured every nook of the house for chairs. We gathered, poured wine, prayed and ate.
I don’t think it could have gone any better.
When people are forced to shift, to move around the moment and “figure it out”, they wake up. The conversation was exploding, the laughter and energy were palpable. My sister commented on it being, “The closest thing to a pub I’ve experienced outside the UK.” It was the informality, the unexpected moment of change that made it so fun. We gathered only to gather. The planned form was shot, it didn’t make sense, so why not relax, adapt and enjoy?
I still don’t think I will try to undermine our next party with an unexpected twist, but maybe we should?