Maybe you watch food TV or food Network. Being a major foodie all my life, I love watching cooking shows. I was probably the only kid in my neighborhood watching Julia Child on the weekends while all my friends were watching The Banana Splits, Lancelot Link, and Scooby Doo. Recently there has been a new phenomenon in cooking that actually has occurred everywhere else in our entertainment world: competition. Gone are the days of Julia’s molded salad not coming out of the mold, the lobster falling out of the pot, or the turkey sliding off the tray. Nope, today a cook like Julia would be chopped; no classic French cuisine here. Could she make a dessert from red bean paste, smoked oyster sauce, organic grass fed Yak’s milk and duck confit in 20 minutes? I don’t know. I don’t think she would want to.

Competitive, stress filled, crazy, dangerous, and downright uglythat’s just my drive from Ashburn. I’m disappointed that cooking has taken on so many of these characteristics. Cooking and eating are for me, very spiritual experiences. I can’t think of any one thing that brings so many people together, sets us at ease, puts smiles on our faces, melts away stress, and builds community faster than food. They have done research that shows that a family that eats together regularly is emotionally healthier and the kids stand a much higher likelihood of staying clear of many pitfalls that can be life altering. Amazing really, that something so basic and available can have such a positive effect.

The Bible is filled with references to breaking bread and eating as a setting in which Jesus teaches, performs miracles, references the kingdom, and even tells us to ask for daily. Yet for most of us this has become another competition on how quickly it can be made, served, and eaten. Say Grace? Well, it’s more like, “Good God, good food, let’s eat!” Thanksgiving is right around the corner and even that, the feast of feasts, has been reduced to quick, precooked, table ready dishes, with the meal eclipsed by shopping at 12:00 a.m. Time, preparation, love, connection, familyall that is and can be good is right there at the table. He invites us to eat, to consume his love and forgiveness. Spending time together around a table is the perfect setting in which we can stop and find the Spirit in each other.

It is another case of priorities I suppose. I’m just as guilty as the next guy trying to squeeze another activity into our lives and the lives of our kids. We so quickly dismiss the importance and the power of a basic meal together. I’m really bummed my kids don’t have Julia Child and all her wonderful quirky awkwardness to look to. She encouraged, gave confidence, helped to show that anyone could tackle the kitchen; not very stressful, on the edge, or crazy, yet not valued much today either.

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