How we feed our hungers and what we feed them with, is rooted in every part of human life.
History, agriculture, environment; ethnicity, class; community and family, celebration and famine, health and disease, religion and ritual, ethics and economics, migration and science: look to food and you’ll find these and countless other connections between what we eat and who we are.
Look to Deep Feast, and you’ll find provocative discussion about this. Almost anything could be on the table we’ll share here.
Does Deep Feast contain recipes? Sure, you’ll find some here. What about ooh-and-ahh photographs of, say, pear-cherry upside-down cake, or illustrated pictorials of step-by-step how-tos, like, say, how to make, and put up, green tomato mincemeat? Sure, you’ll find some of that here, too.
But there are good recipes and gorgeous photographs on many, many other food and cooking blogs (indeed, we explore, and link to, some of them here).
Deep Feast, though, is “writing the world through food.”
Deep Feast’s food writing includes, but transcends, the recipe.
In every bite we eat — whether it’s a wedge of skillet-sizzled buttermilk cornbread with beans and a green onion on the side, a Big Mac, or local artisanal sheep’s milk cheese on a homemade oatmeal cracker with a crisp Northern Spy apple from your own orchard — we take in not just (hopefully) nourishment and pleasure, but connection with our world.
In every bite we eat, we sign, over and over, a usually unrecognized contract. That contract inheres in inhabiting a body on earth: you eat, and are, eventually, eaten. Ashes or flesh and bones return to that same earth, to become sustenance for other creatures who will also, in their turn, eat and be eaten.
In every bite we eat, we confirm the story of life: both an individual life and life itself. This story is told over and over again. Meal by meal, bite by bite, plate by plate. This story is always particular and universal. This story is many stories — some of which we explore in Deep Feast.
For this is where the narrative of humanity begins: food, shelter, and story. Our forbears killed the mammoths (food), dragged them back to the cave (shelter), and then painted what they had done on the ceiling (story).
It’s this last act that makes us human. All other animals, after all, also seek food and shelter. But we Homo sapiens also feel that third component, and with deep urgency: to narrate, whether through art, oral storytelling, or writing, what happened to us. To explore why; to discover who we are. In this exploration, though we may serve food, food serves us, and serves us generously.
We need the arc of beginning, middle, and end, because, as human beings, we are aware that we had a beginning, live (and eat) somewhere in the middle, and will meet an end. Because we are aware of our mortality, we are, as anthropologist Roy A. Rappaport wrote, “meaning-making animals.”
Let’s make meaning together. Let’s make dinner. Let’s celebrate, together, the Deep Feast: life itself, the whole world, bite by bite.