Food is nourishment. The act of preparing and serving food can be an act of contrition, hope, joy, comfort, medicine.
At SJTI we had ample opportunities to further our connection and learning through and over food. Whether a lunch just getting to know each other, a raucous tapas and drinks session allowing ourselves to distance a little from the intensity, a walk to the cafe in the fog just waking our minds, a late night dinner digging into our pain and dissociation from our own race, or a bottle of wine and pasta and discussions of children, politics, and where we grew up, the act of gathering and eating deepened the work we did during the day.
We shared flavors, cultures, nutrients. We helped each other consume information and digest it. We broke bread (literally, at times) together in a kind of communion, in commitment to the work, and because eating was soothing after a day of tension.
Often though, I’d want the first moments of the day alone, sipping coffee and eating something the hotel had manufactured, because silence and food also go well together. Because sometimes dining and sharing together is so intimate that one needs to retreat.
I noticed that while my need for silent comfort was sated, the meals weren’t nearly as delicious. Perhaps that’s due to hotel food being hotel food, but it’s also likely that there are ineffable seasonings added that can only be found when people share themselves with each other.