There’s a moment in George MacDonald’s Phantastes in which food makes all the difference.
…it not only satisfied my hunger, but operated in such a way upon my senses, that I was brought into a far more complete relationship with the things around me. The human forms appeared much more dense and defined, more tangibly visible … I seemed to know better which direction to choose when any doubt arose. I began to feel in some degree what the birds meant in their songs, though I could not express it in words, anymore than you can some landscapes.
Food can do this sort of thing. I’m sure you’ve experienced a baser version of his: not stumbling through Fairy Land trying to get a grip on what’s around you, but the simple grumpiness and crankiness that results from being late to get your meal. Tricia and I went through this in our experience at Hutchmoot, and in the moment our plane landed back in Rochester. We had spent all weekend having amazing meals courtesy of the cooking artistry of Evie Coates. On the way home, our first flight was delayed, and we did not have time in the layover to get dinner. We were starving by the time our plane landed in Rochester. We got in the car and drove directly to get Rochester’s most famous meal: The Garbage Plate. (If you’re ever in Rochester, I’ll take you out for one of these.) We were revived (though I admit, the next morning I regretted the decision to eat such a plate at 10:30pm).
Where am I going with this ramble about food? Wherever I want. It’s food. It’s worth talking about.
But apart from that … well, let’s back up and say that Evie’s cooking is better, by far, than a Garbage Plate (and believe me: as a Rochesterian, that’s saying a lot). Combine Evie’s cooking with the great company at Hutchmoot and the wonderful conversation around the dinner tables, and you had an experience that helps you to see the world better, like the man walking through Fairy Land. It’s magic. It’s sacramental. AP told a story at some point during the weekend about bringing the same pot of chili to a family that had lost a loved one and a family that had welcomed a new baby into the world.
Food, in all its wonderful varieties, is like the stories we tell. They are many and varied, but all the best ones have a source in One Story. Food sustains us; the Story sustains us. Food, like all the created world, points to the greater reality in and behind and around it, that there is a creator who sustains us and nourishes us.
At the first meal of the Hutchmoot weekend, it was noted many times that Evie put a lot of love into her cooking. It might sound like hyperbole, but it’s not. Love and food go together.
And now I’m hungry, so I’m wrapping this up and heading downstairs for a burrito.