I read this week that food plays an important role in keeping people healthy. You raise your eyebrow and say, “You needed to read that?” But actually the article was about mental health. Sharing meals, especially ritual meals, is an important part of maintaining our identity as we age. Saturday morning breakfast has become that kind of ritual for me.
The ritual involves the first people to arrive at the restaurant after our walk trying to figure out how many places we will need. They call out the names of those they know will be coming and, with the help of the restaurant staff, pull tables together. No-one is to sit alone. Then, as people arrive, they move along the bench to include latecomers. Coffee is served and orders are placed, some eating the same thing every week, others studying the menu for novelty. There is sharing of hash browns and bacon. The food is the background to wide-ranging conversations – political (what has he done this week?), sociological (new social norms we are noticing), practical (where to find a good plumber) and stories of life’s adventures, big and small. We don’t stay long; we are busy people. We rise from the table, refreshed in body and spirit. We have renewed our bond.
This Saturday we had a large crowd of 20 walkers, probably because of the dry, not terribly cold, weather. Over a dozen of us joined “our” table after the walk. One of our talented members produced boxes of home-made baking and chocolates to share. She’s been doing this every year for a long time. Imagine beautiful truffles with a shiny coat of dark chocolate or white chocolate with limoncello or petit shortbread pinwheels. Another spectacular ritual!