Last week I went to a Lebanese feast with a few good friends. We had some good food, and plenty of it. After the sixth course I lost count of how many we had, but everyone, including the restaurant staff, realised that we could not eat more and they told us they will not bring more food.
I have prepared feasts, or mini feasts, for myself. In most cases, I know I can do a better job cooking the foods. I know how to make the foods that I am used to from the location I come from, but what I cooked has not tasted as good as this one. After some consideration, I realised that there was an ingredient missing in my preparations: a secret ingredient.
Sitting at the feast table eating the food reminded me of my childhood when my father used to bbq the meat while my mother used to prepare the other dishes in the kitchen. I remembered that I used to go out to my father, who would take a piece of the meat, put in in some bread and give it to me to eat. I can still taste that meat. It was the best food I ever had. As I grew up, I started helping my father with the bbq. We used to talk and eat a bit of the meat. Sometimes I helped my mother preparing the salads and other dishes. Again, we talked, and of course we needed to taste the food we were preparing. While the meat and the other dishes tasted amazing, it was nothing compared to the taste when we put all of it together at the feast table. My father used to break bread and pass it on to us after giving thanks for the food and we would eat a feast that I had been missing the taste of until last week. I know that the secret ingredient was used when my father and mother were preparing the food, because it tasted much better than anything else.
When I was in my late teens, the family started to trust me to do the bbq myself. I remember one day we went to my uncles farm for the feast and I sat with my uncle to bbq, and we talked and cooked. I was the one doing everything while my uncle sat next to me and just talked and handed me the meat and took the cooked ones from me. Yes, we also tasted the meat. Tasting the meat has always given me a foretaste of the feast we are going to have, when all the other foods are put together to make a whole. It lead me to anticipate what was to come at the feast.
In all these experiences the secret ingredient was used but I don’t know how I missed it when I started preparing the food for myself after moving to Australia.
During the Advent season, this story has reminded me to anticipate, because what we have now is just a small part of the whole; a foretaste of what is to come, not very different from the Bread and Wine of Communion being a foretaste of the heavenly feast.
The Secret Ingredient: share it with family and friends.