feeding gratefulness – an abby barnhart special

*today’s post is from abby barnhart. abby is a favorite of the haines’ house (and many other houses i’m sure). take the time to visit her site. in fact subscribe to it. you won’t be disappointed.

feeding gratefulness

i’m no chef, but i sure can eat,
and along the way, to my mother’s great surprise, i fell in love with the cooking.

my sunday ritual now includes recipe-hunting and a meandering trip through the store —
first round the outside through the greens and the good greek yogurt,
then up and down the aisles for the stuff they try to hide —
pine nuts, saffron, anything with wasabi.
all the way i’m weaving and hunting, gathering, preparing,
a huge chunk of a day set aside to ensure
a week’s worth of my most favorite thing —
sitting down to dinner together.

most nights, i slice onions on the counter by the coffee beans.
it’s not big or well-lit, but that’s my chopping spot.
and most nights, no matter the trick, the tears well heavy and run fast,
like they were waiting all day for the final word, go.

i’ve tried holding water beneath my tongue, to keep from breathing in the fumes.
i’ve tried candles, bread, and ice cubes,
worn goggles, ran fans, made up and performed an inspired no-cry jig.
yet every time, with just one slice, the dam is loosed.
a day’s worth of whatsits stored in the pent-up places, set free –
to well and run,
and then be done.

the onions do the cutting.
the dinner is making me.

i’m not the first to find the peace of ritual in a solitary saute.
we eat to live, but we cook to give thanks –
as a gesture of love to those at our table,
a measure of friendship to a scared and shaking stranger,
as a connection to the past, the far away, and the not forgotten.
i know i won’t be the last to call mom when the quiche is too salty,
or the buttermilk turned,
or the soup tastes just like hers.

central moravian’s chapel sits at the corner of church and main in the heart of old bethlehem.
they celebrate lovefeast from time to time – a passing of sweet bread and forgiveness, love and goodwill.
i visited on an off sunday and didn’t get a bite,
but i know the taste.
i can feel it on my tongue and somehow, behind my eyes.
they well and run.

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28 Responses to feeding gratefulness – an abby barnhart special

  1. Pingback: feeding gratefulness

  2. thanks for the space and the prompt to think on food, seth.
    i sliced four onions last night and the tears felt fresh for being noticed.
    i like to think every meal can be a lovefeast.

  3. I read this fast. Then I read it slow and this line: “we eat to live, but we cook to give thanks” changed me. I think my cooking is going to be more mindful tonight and I look forward to what I might notice.

    Love. And thanks.


  4. Kiki Malone says:

    I’ve heard that cutting onions under water, like in the sink filled up past your wrists, would help. I tried it once. Real awkward. Decided to go with the counter and the burn instead.

    Greek yogurt is gooder than regular yogurt. I’ve never tried Activia, but I love Jamie Lee Curtis.

    • this sounds dangerous, as i’m not so good with the knife in the first place, but i like the ingenuity.

      maybe if we soak the onions in greek yogurt? sounds like a win.

      • sethhaines says:

        Let’s be honest, Kiki. You’ll probably try that Activia stuff just out of loyalty to the woman who started the whole Halloween movie franchise. And there’s not nothin’ wrong with that.

  5. Abby, Leigh. I sure do love you, thankful for you. You almost even make me want to cook, but then there’s Seth, how he grabs spices I never would. Some people just have the gift, and for those, I give much thanks.

    There is nothing that compares with a table full of friends, all the clinking glass.

    • i need to plan a trip to eat at the haines’ table. or is it haines’s? i always get confused.

      either way, i’m glad to know you both. *cheers*

      • Kiki Malone says:

        Abby – When a name ends in with the letter s, you have the option of either using only an apostrophe (Haines’ house) or using an apostrophe-s combo (Haines’s house). Both are correct, which allows your choice to be one of aesthetics rather than grammar. And I always prefer aesthetic choices over grammatical choices.

      • sethhaines says:

        We should plan a big dinner somewhere with everyone… I mean everyone… everyone in this comment thread and their families. That’d be a fun time. Amber, Abby, and Kiki could read poetry from their favorite books.

        I’ll sit and listen.

  6. very beautiful Abby, very beautiful indeed. I love food. Those three words might not sound like much, but it is. I think I live to eat & would love to share a meal with you at my table. I would be on onion duty.

    P.S. you know you’re speaking my language–right?!

  7. HopefulLeigh says:

    This is absolutely lovely, Abby! So many great lines stand out to me. There’s nothing like the sacrament of cooking.

  8. sethhaines says:

    abby… abby… abby…

    i think your words build to a daggum good crescend —

    “the onions do the cutting.
    the dinner is making me.
    i’m not the first to find the peace of ritual in a solitary saute.
    we eat to live, but we cook to give thanks -”

    i think i’ll whisper more prayers over my supper preparation from here on out. maybe i’ll use the chopping block as an altar of sorts, a place to recognize the good in the raw ingredients. perhaps i’ll find myself thinking more about fragrant offerings, drink offerings, and the like.

    to see food as a metaphor? brilliant, abby. thank you for your words here today. good stuff. really.

    • thank you for not capitalizing anything in this comment. what a tribute to my feelings about capital letters!

      i love the image of the chopping block as an altar. i think i would have gotten there eventually, but that is the perfect next word . . .

      i’m thinking of starting a virtual supper club over at my place. i’ll be sure to send you all beautiful invitations in all lowercase calligraphy when i do.

      • Kiki Malone says:

        i’m a big lower-case letter fan myself. mrs. haines has mentioned my lack of attention to capitalization a few times. but in this matter, for the sake of our odd sibling-hood, we have adopted the ron burgandy philosophy of relational conversating, “well, agree to disagree.” i’m glad to have a fellow anti-capital friend.

  9. I had this wonderful comment that I hit post on, but I think my address was wonky. I forget my thoughtful comment. I guess I would say that I love this & really like you. I wish there was a kitchen with local food at Relevant & we could have created a Lovefeast. I remember how the term lovefeast was in reference to those first meals in first century church. I get sad about the stale wafer & thimble of grape juice representing the true lovefeast. I live to eat & you are welcome to sup at my table any time you are in WA. I’ll be on onion duty.

    • i may just be planning a trip out west in the spring. you’ll be the first to know!
      i’d definitely request some of those cardamom orange cookies for my visit 🙂

      • Oh I guess it did go through:) Yes, cookies & coffee (really good coffee), or tea if that’s your fancy. I’m going to my storyteller’s guild tonight to tell ‘Stone Soup,’ thought you should add it to your reading this season.

  10. Pingback: a lazy, linky christmas card: 2011

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