Now is that not a fun word? My friends and I get some strange amusement out of saying it again and again, in rhythm. If you say it fast enough it sounds like you are chanting something profound in a mysterious language. However, the saying of the word is not half so fun as the eating of the food it describes. Baba Ghanoush is actually a middle-eastern specialty made of pureed eggplant, tahini and olive oil. It is indescribably delicious on warm pita.
My lovely friend Melody had the girls of my family over for lunch the other day for a lavish middle eastern feast. I have found a kindred spirit in her because, like me, she thinks food can be disarmingly delicious and downright healthy to boot. She had brought a delectable pasta salad with roasted vegetables to our house the week before, and when I said I wanted to know how she did it, she said she’d have me over and show me how for lunch. Ah, bliss. So I perched at her kitchen counter on a Thursday noon and chopped piles of fresh vegetables and garlic while snacking on warm pita with hummus and baba ghanoush. It was so lovely to chop and talk, to laugh, and then to end it all with feasting that I told her I’d simply have to mention our time on my blog.
I think that the sharing of a feast with friends, be it big or small, is like sampling the slimmest sliver of heaven. I’ve been thinking about it all week during my lunches (Melody inspired me to whip up my own fresh hummus and I’ve had it with pita every day this week). There is something so basic in the making of a meal with other people, and yet it seems to me so symbolic of some eternal hunger in our hearts that is sated by feasting and fellowship. The times I have spent cooking with friends, talking, laughing, creating the basic elements of celebration, stand out to me as some of the best memories I have.
I remember standing in the kitchen one particular Christmas Eve, up to my elbows in potatoes and green peas, and suddenly being overwhelmed with this fleeting sense of how important the cadence and care of celebration and feasting were. In that moment, with my hands at a steady beat of chopping and the girls cooking on either side as we prepared for a whole night of memory and celebration, I felt almost dizzy with a sense of the life we were creating. But also, the life that was coming, the life of which our little feast was but a glinting reflection.
So thanks Melody. What a lunch. It was a gift in so many ways.