On the one hand, eating is a physiological necessity and on the other hand a symbol and act of human socialization. An intersection of nature and culture. Over so many years, our society learned how to shape our natural drives using a process of civilization. Among other drives, ingestion of food in particular has been socially coded and standardized. I spent a week in Turkey, where I shared every meal with ten other people. Sometimes we even prepared food together, helped each other in the kitchen, covered the table together etc. We all were Berliners, but everyone of us originally came from another country or region. And yet, we all have a same kind of “table behavior”. In a way, we represented a perfect social order of a (western) “table community”.
The eating ceremony started when we were complete at the table. After an obligatory “Guten Appetit”, we created something like a castling of floating bowls, plates and spices over the table. First 7 min. you could only hear the experimental music intermezzo composed by interaction of silver utensils and plates. After 10 min. first words would slightly cover the instrumental sounds and we would start a verbal exchange of our thoughts in a standardized language we all speak- English.
Oh, this group was a rest for soul and such an inspiration! Not only because we spoke almost the whole time during our meals about the food. Between us vibrated a wave of good energy, refined humor, lightness, friendship, honesty and a common passion – yoga. One day after I came back from Turkey I found myself home alone. I was happy to be at home, because home is home, but I could not get used to the change. I circled over my place like a robot until I started to cook. While I was eating all by myself I could not decide which surrounding I prefer more while eating: a loud family atmosphere in an Italian or Balkan style or sitting alone with my food and my thoughts. Eating is communication. No matter if you are alone at home or in a crowded restaurant.
Just when I wanted to choose a first, more lively option, I remembered a very interesting young man whom I recently met in Austria. An Austrian puppeteer- actor who overwhelmed me by the devotion he put in his job. I always liked very passionate people, especially when they stay simple and modest. One evening, in a melancholic mood, he told me about the time he had spent in Poland. “I had a very small apartment somewhere in Warsaw. Without any windows. The daylight never came into this place. Very often, after or during a meal, I organized great performances at the table. I was never really interested into the people, I was more fascinated by puppets and things. Or even machines. Anyway, I took the spoons and, with their dance, they entertained the plates.”
Eating is a ritual.
Hummus (Basic Recipe)
(This recipe is based on Hummus recipe of Yotam Ottolenghi)
*I wrote about the history background of hummus in this post.
Ingredients (serves 4):
250 g chickpeas, soaked over night and then cooked for 2 hours until they become very soft
250 g white tahini
1 dl ice cold water (or more if you like the hummus more smoothy. I eat it rather when it is not too creamy.)
1 tsp salt
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
4 Tsp freshly pressed lemon juice
1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until you reached a desired consistence. Gradually add the water.
Massaged Spinach With Roasted Pines
400 g spinach, washed and finely chopped
4 Tsp native olive oil
2 Tsp freshly pressed lemon juice
1 Tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
a handful of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
a good pinch of salt and freshly grounded pepper
2 Tsp honey or date syrup
For roasted Pines:
60 g pines
a knob of coconut oil or ghee
1 Tsp chili flakes
1. In a bigger bowl place all ingredients together and using your hands massage all spices very well into the spinach.
2. In a frying pan place pines, ghee (or coconut oil) and chili flakes. Heat the pan and roast everything just until the pines are golden.
Hummus Covered With Massaged Spinach and Roasted Pines Ensamble
1. Spread hummus over the serving plate and then generously cover it with a spiced spinach. Sprinkle roasted pines and chili flakes oil over everything. Serve!