As is true in life, when we appreciate our similarities rather than our differences (but are open to new opportunities), we embrace the alignment of our energies and live in awe of our overlapping beliefs and values. In my opinion and experience, this is where the deepest connections are made.
Across cultures, home cooking is nourishment on so many levels. The cook (and her sous chefs) benefit from the grace of sharing the meal that they planned and prepared. (This is especially true when the food is fresh, local, and in season.) Those of us who are invited to indulge in the prana (“life force” or “Vitamin L” as Joshua Rosenthal calls it) of the meal are nurtured in ways we remember once we slow down–and sit down–together. This is how we break bread.
Whose god laughs at our plans?
Our “plan” had been to have our Not Shabbat dinner in an Indian restaurant with our oldest son in New Orleans. We had relatively spontaneously (but with permission) decided to drop in on him for the weekend. As luck (call it what you will) would have it, the actual Plan was for us to participate in an abundant feast and ode to “home”. The beautiful, generous family of Gabe’s friend (and brilliant lab partner), was also in town. Advaith’s mother and grandparents had invited his newly formed South Asian Student Club, the Bandhus, for an evening meal together. Fortunately, I think they felt sorry for us as our Indian meal could not possibly include the necessary spices brought directly from India by his charming grandmother, and we were in.
What an unexpected privilege to be asked to join the Subramanian family and Bandhus who longed for the comforts of the flavors that ground them. The memories, the conversations of connections and histories, and the cooks who couldn’t stop excitedly filling and refilling our plates until there was nothing left in the pots felt just like our home, only with different labels and aromas. The intention of the food was magical–sweet to start in order to whet the palate, spicy, plant-based curries complemented by cool yogurt and naan and rice and simple desserts to round out the meal that didn’t call for utensils, only the skill of rolling the fingers around the familiar textures.
We were exactly where we were supposed to be. As we always are.