A few months ago, we dropped cable TV and picked up Direct TV (satellite). In the process, the Food Network has provided a wonderland of entertainment. One of the more interesting types of shows are those such as Iron Chef America and Chopped! where the contestants/chefs are presented with specific foodstuff or odd-ball collection of foods and must create dishes “real fast now.” It can be quite interesting, to say the least.
This morning before mass (I’m on for 2 masses this weekend), my attention was drawn to an article in the NY Times – Finding Purpose in Serving the Needy, Not Just Haute Cuisine about trained chefs who work in homeless shelters. These shelters receive random shipments of donated food. The ultimate “challenge” in Food Network terminology. Hmmm… how to make dinner from 600 pounds of bologna and 20 flats of Orange Crush. Oh – and it has to be healthy and tasty.
More difficult, but not totally out of the arena of “what’s for dinner tonight?” when you haven’t been to the grocery store lately, or you have a neighbor who has an abundance of zucchini that has been left on your doorstep.Â Or even how the creativity required at the end of the month to send a child off to school with a lunch and your have only a hotdog bun and peanut butter as starters, and no cash to buy his lunch or go to the store until tomorrow.
There are many lessons to be learned from these situations — not so easy, but so necessary for survival.
In the end, you discover that at least one of these Homeless Shelter chef’s (who left a life of cooking in a high level Napa Valley restaurant) sees a bit of the feast of Corpus Christi every day when his consumers sit at the table and share not only the physical food he has prepared, but the spiritual food that comes of the sharing, the faith, and the interaction at the table. Both types of food are essential, and both are comfort food.