refresh our sensibilities.
Give us this day our daily taste.
Restore to us soups that spoons will not sink in,
and sauces which are never the same twice.
Raise up among us stews with more gravy
than we have bread to blot it with,
and casseroles that put starch and substance
in our limp modernity.
Take away our fear of fat,
and make us glad of the oil
that ran upon Aaron’s beard.
Give us pasta with a hundred fillings,
and rice in a thousand variations.
give us grace to live as true people—
to fast till we come to a refreshed sense
of what we have and then to dine gratefully
on all that comes to hand.
Drive far from us,
O Most Bountiful,
all creatures of air and darkness;
cast out the demons that possess us;
deliver us from the fear of calories
and the bondage of nutrition;
and set us free once more in our own land,
where we shall serve thee as thou hast blessed us—
with the dew of heaven,
the fatness of the earth,
and plenty of corn and wine.
Priest, theologian and food writer, Robert Farrar Capon died last year, aged 87. This prayer is taken from his delightful book, The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection, New York: Doubleday, 1969.
Let us fast–whenever we see fit, and as strenuously as we should. But having gotten that exercise out of the way, let us eat! Festally, first of all, for life without occasions is not worth living. But ferially, too, for life is so much more than occasions, and its grand ordinariness must never go unsavored. But both ways let us eat with glad good will, and with a a conscience formed by considerations of excellence, not by fear of Ghosts.
Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection, New York: Doubleday, 1969
The table comes first, before the meal and even before the kitchen where it’s made. It precedes everything in remaining the one plausible hearth of family life, the raft to ride down the river of our exitence, even in the hardest times. The table also comes first in the sense that its drama–the people who gather at it, the conversation that flows across it, and the pain and romance that happen around it–is more essential to our real lives, and also to the real life of food in the world, than any number of arguments about where the zucchini came from, and how far it had to travel before it got here.
A wonderful book!
Adam Gopnik, The Table Comes First: Family, France and the Meaning of Food, London, Quercus, 2011.