“Food is a new religion,” she said.
We had just finished licking the last of the cranberry scone crumbs from our fingers, our bellies full and happy from a generous breakfast. I had never heard anyone put it that way before, but the more I thought about what Fong said, I agreed.
Food is a new religion.
At the Black Squirrel Inn, breakfast was at 8:30, with rumors of homemade scones. I expected something along the lines of scrambled eggs and fresh fruit, but was delightfully surprised by the three-course meal prepared by Fong, the Inn’s owner. The first morning we wandered downstairs on time. Fong greeted us with an offer of coffee and tea as we sat down, with our first course already laid out before us: vanilla yogurt scattered with mango, pistachios, and granola. My favorite breakfast! (Well not that combination exactly, but I do love granola, yogurt, and fruit and nuts of some kind.) I was comforted by seeing the familiar bowl of smooth and crunchy, yet excited by the different flavors of this other version. Halfway through our yogurt bowls, Fong brought us each a warm cranberry scone with a dab of butter perched on top. I savored it slowly, happy and satisfied with ending our breakfast there. When our bowls were scraped clean, Fong brought us the final course: a triangle of polenta topped with a poached egg, two asparagus spears, and a bright red tomato purée. We cleaned our plates and patted our bellies, and I felt full with more than the satisfaction of getting enough to eat as we shared our appreciation and conversation with Fong.
Food is a new religion. Food brings people together.
The trends of “foodie,” food studies, culinary tourism, and all the other buzz words of our food realm have turned many of us into faithful food followers, different from the everyday eating experience. Food has a creed, though perhaps not a god. People believe in local, organic, sprouted, all-natural, wheat free, egg free, dairy free, vegan, non-GMO, no high fructose corn syrup (you get the idea). We have lists of what to buy and what not to buy, where to shop and what companies we support, what super foods to eat and what favorite comfort food to eschew. It is new restaurants, food-trucks, underground pop-ups, friends’ dining rooms, and roof-top gatherings that are our sanctuaries and it is the literal communion of friends and loved ones around and across the table that saves us and connects us to a larger meaning.
“Food brings people together.”
Fong repeated the oft-heard phrase that has echoed throughout my food studies and even though I already knew it, I believed it even more. Here we were, strangers sharing the details of our lives, inspired by food put before us. We were becoming friends because of our belief and passion for sharing food and connecting through food. We were ascribing to the food lovers’ creed.