Food as religion

Perhaps you know the counsel, “’Eat to Live,’ rather than ‘Live to Eat.’”

Still, a big change has occurred in America in the past half century. While the impact of organized religion has declined, a quest for a rich, even exotic, cuisine has flourished. As I posted a few years ago, dining out became the major fine art form of our time, rather than music, theater, film, or dance.  It’s the ethereal experience, the sensual transcendence, that’s the goal – ultimately, subjective rather than objective, heightened by long exposure to the field. Examples? Just look at the restaurant and wine reviews, along with their arcane or cryptic dialect.

Well, that also takes it into the realm of spirituality and religion, too, although that might also temper the feasting with periods of fasting. Maybe all of the limitations that have popped up, usually for health reasons or weight control, fit in here. It has been said that you can’t read the life of Jesus without getting hungry – there’s food or a food event at nearly every turn. (As a rabbi told me, that’s because Jesus was Jewish and in social settings, you always wind up with something to nibble in your hand.)

I’m left wondering how this translates to the home kitchen. Cooking skills, by and large, seem to be less universal than in the past, and time to devote to food preparation usually comes at a premium. Is takeout a kind of sacrificial nod to the food gods?

One thing I will say in all of the transformation. Thank God for the microwave oven.

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