Monthly Archives: April 2014

Halligan on Food, Family and Melancholy

It is Christmas in Newcastle and the family home is full of family. We moved the big dining table into the garden, under the shade of the pohutukawas that I had given my parents for Christmas the year I was eighteen; a tree their size is a rare thing in this wind-scoured seaside suburb. I went to a nursery and asked what would grow. I’d given up on roses, but not trees. Now, nearly thirty years later, they were big and shady. The weather was superb, sunny and dry but not too hot. There was always a sea breeze gently blowing the scents of salt to mix with the smell of frangipani and the soft soothing roar of the waves. I remember sitting under the trees with the delicate wind caressing my face.

So we put the table in the garden, knowing we wouldn’t have done this had my parents been alive, and ate all our meals there, sitting late into the evening talking over glasses of wine. It was a melancholy time but greatly pleasurable in the way that melancholy can be. We knew it was the last time that we would live in our childhood house, and we had time to pay attention to this. We were sad that our mother had died, but she was old, and ready, in fact we were sure she had allowed herself to die. She had a number of times survived the slight illness that had killed her, but this time she embraced it, let herself be seduced into the death she desired, and we were part of the everlasting cycle of life, where children bury their parents and go on to make their own lives, trusting their children will bury them, and not the other way round.

Christmas lunch was a huge pile of prawns, which we’d got up early and gone to the fish market to buy, small sweet prawns, the best ones, locally caught, with black bread and butter and pepper and lemon, and good white wine, all of us sitting there peeling our own, the children old enough to manage, eating as much as we wanted. So luxurious.

the-taste-of-memoryMarion Halligan, The Taste of Memory, Crows Next: Allen & Unwin, 2004, 20-21.

A review @ Koorong Books

There’s a lovely review of Eating Heaven from Paul over at Koorong Books:

Simon Carey Holt has a great gift to write engagingly, proved by his authorship of his book God Next Door, which won Australian Christian Book of The Year in 2008. In Eating Heaven he has managed to convey lucidly his love of food and eating, his love of Melbourne and its cafes and restaurants and his love for God and family. Since I picked a copy I haven’t been able to put it down. I even took it to work with me two days in a row to try to sneak in a few pages between jobs. I love Simon’s ability to discuss the ordinary in a way that enables us to see the beauty of eggs for breakfast on a Friday morning in a favourite caf; his Mum’s Chocolate Pudding Recipe; a Footscray veggie garden that grows spinach, beans, tomatoes and garlic; family meal times; the delightful simplicity of the backyard BBQ and sharing a cup of tea. Simon has managed to do a range of things in Eating Heaven. He’s told his own story; that of his family of origin and now his own family. He’s written an ode to Melbourne’s cafes and restaurants. He’s celebrated the act of food preparation, of cooking and of eating. He’s unpacked the communal significance of all of this for us as human beings and he has reflected deeply on what he calls Spirituality at the Table. As Simon writes he has tried ‘to help us better understand why all tables are spiritually charged, rich with possibility for all people, regardless of tradition or belief.’ A great read, at so many levels.

A ‘grace’ from the Dead Sea Scrolls

Author of my wellbeing,
source of knowledge,
fount of holiness, height of glory,
all-mightiness of eternal splendour!
I shall choose that which
he shall have taught me
and I shall rejoice in that which
he shall have appointed unto me.
When I put forth my hands and feet,
I shall bless his name;
when I go out and or when I go in,
when I sit down or when I rise up,
and upon my bed shall I sing unto him.
I shall bless him with the offering
which comes forth from my lips
for the sake of all which he has established unto men,
and before I lift my hands to partake
of the delicious fruits of the earth.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of Hebrew documents, parchments from the Jewish sect of the Essenes of Qumran, and hidden in caves on Israel’s West Bank. Dated from 480 BCE to around 300 CE, the parchments were discovered again in the mid 20th century.

Eating, knowing and lust

‘Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, and “the eyes of both were opened and they knew they were naked …” (Gen 3.7) The Hebrew word “to know” can have sexual connotations … The knowledge that Adam and Eve acquired included the knowledge that humans are sexual beings, and our sexual nature and physical hungers are deeply intertwined. Eating and sexual intercourse can both be acts of profound human communion … But eating and intercourse can become grave violations of communion when they are acts of consumption, gluttony, domination, or┬álust.’

UnknownElizabeth T. Groppe, Eating and Drinking (Christian Explorations of Daily Living), Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2011, 49.

Image: ‘Adam and Eve’ by┬áJacopo Robusti Tintoretto

Christian weight loss books

I’ve been collating titles of Christian dieting books for a while now. Not just for fun, nor to make fun of them, but as part of a small research project. The earliest I’ve found is Charlie Shed’s 1957 ‘Pray Your Weight Away’.

If you know of any I’ve missed, I would love to hear.

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