PC: KSB

Food for the soul | a recipe and activity

Ready to get those creative juices going and become an introspective chef today?

My nonprofit has allowed all staff to work from home during this pandemic, and it offers weekly R&R sessions for interested employees to connect and process as needed. Today’s session included a reflective activity.

The prompt was “food for the soul,” and each attendee each came up with the recipe title and ingredients that they need for balance and nourishment in daily life.

As a Christ-follower, I appreciated the prompt, which seemed surprisingly Christian Jesus is the bread of life, and our souls find rest in God alone though my organization is not faith-based. The language was unintentionally familiar, and it led to several creative responses.

One employee simply listed musical after musical in her ingredient list. Another shared ways they replenish their energy as an introvert. I now present you with my own recipe, “Skye’s Splendid Soup.”

Not a soup. Just a muffin in a muffin top, made by my sweet coworker! PC: KSB.

Before I share the recipe, let me just say that this soup is good for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or any time of day. You can adjust the amount of the ingredients based on the flavor desired.

The main ingredient is in this soup is engagement with my dear ones best friends, family, cousins. This what makes the meal hearty. This is the rice of the splendid soup. You can’t get by without it.

Other ingredients include community and music, which can add a fresh flavor to the soup, much like that of green bell peppers, tomato, red onion, and so forth. My mom taught me to throw in whatever you have and make it beautiful, so the amounts or types may really depend on what’s available that day.

Mix in worship as well. Worship is the stock of the soup. Personally, I use vegetable stock, and there are so many options with that! You could buy it in liquid form, use the flavorful jarred kind, or even make your own!

You could pray over the phone or on your bed, sing along with a band or choir on YouTube or create music, read Scripture, listen to the Lord through meditation or prophecy, fellowship with others (remotely; we’re still in a pandemic), creatively minister to or with others, et cetera. My local Anglican church also uses the Book of Common Prayer as a guide for Scripture reading, prayer, and reflection.

Don’t forget to add in nature! The soup tastes best if you double this ingredient. Since there’s no baseline for the original recipe, just add as much as you can. Trees, walking, hiking, sunshine, tiny purple flowers, more trees and foliage, lilacs, lavender, the lake if it’s safe, et cetera. (Just go with what you have on hand, but always include trees.)

Next, add in heaps of hugs to taste, but generously. This really seals the soup’s flavor and adds that key healing ingredient for the soul. Hugs are anti-inflammatory and good for both relaxing and feeling loved.

Finally, add a sprinkling of good food. In Skye’s Splendid Soup of Life, a little good food can go a long way. More good food would probably get you further. With this soup, it’s all about abundance.

Skye’s Splendid Soup is best if set in multicultural bowls, with refugees and Congolese friends, and eaten with deeply thoughtful people.

Pictured here: Maharagwe (beans), sombe (mboga), wali (rice), and ugali (foufou)! SO MUCH Congolese food. Delish. PC: KSB

What is your recipe for soul renewal? Share in the comments below! Bon appetit!

PC: KSB

The sixth love language: food

An open door created a pathway between young adults laughing at the center table and napping on the back couch to Eva, the woman who made the office a home for them. A loveseat and cushioned chair encircled her table of snacks: today a full loaf of bread with a large peanut butter jar sidling up to grape jelly and some Mexican candies, the standard cheeseballs and animal crackers seated on her desk next to the Keurig and hot tea. If God is a provider, and if he has any love, he made himself clear through her food.

Perhaps you’ve heard of the five love languages: physical touch, words of affirmation, giving gifts, acts of service, and quality time. The Office of Multicultural Development, described above, held conversations about this very thing. How do you give love? How do you receive it?

The OMD, as we called the earth-toned space, also taught me that our conversations were incomplete. It was Eva that taught me the sixth love language: food.

African food and friends: beans made Angolan style, foufou, pilipili PC: KSB

African food and friends: beans made Angolan style, foufou, pilipili — all in the Illinois kitchen where I hosted so many friends. PC: KSB

God gave us food for many reasons: It gives us the energy and nutrients to physically sustain our bodies. It grants us joy through its countless flavors and even touches our souls when done with excellence. It creates community when people cook or dine together. It communicates culture as well.

Sharing food with others could be seen as a gift – say you deliver cookies to your friends during finals or mail your best friend a box of protein bars to make sure she is eating. It could be seen as an act of service, bringing rice porridge to someone who is ill or keeping mandazi and chai on hand for your wife when she’s recently brought a new life into the world. Even quality time and the sharing of food go together like PB&J. Thus, I don’t believe it fits in any one love language; I believe it is one to itself.

Personally, I feel loved by food. I feel both taken care of and cared for. Aside from Eva’s “care days,” or grand parties to bring students into the office and show them love, she offered her regular snacks daily—one of her rules was that you had to take something from her office once you stepped foot in it, even if it was just a teabag—and kept a secret stash of almonds just for me when I had dietary limitations.

Eva was so thoughtful, and in all practicality, she and the OMD provided my lunches for much of my college career. That’s how I was sustained, and that’s part of why I felt so loved there. Eva knew her students and what they liked and could or couldn’t have. She gave food out of the love in her heart.

She’s not the only one to love through food; it’s a large part of hospitality in Congolese, Burundian, and Rwandan cultures, for example. You’re sure to be served ugali, water, chai, Fanta if it’s on hand.

Once, my Rwandan friend picked me up from an airport and took me to his family’s apartment, where, although it was at least 10 pm and perhaps closer to midnight, I was made to eat a platter of vegetables and rice before I could sleep. More food, I’m always told I need more food. Food is vital to life, central to hospitality, and part of how people love others.

I currently work at a restaurant, and I have dubbed one of my coworkers “Official Sandwich Maker of the KSB (my initials)” since he thoughtfully puts together delectable, healthy sandwiches out of foods we can no longer serve to customers. I feel loved when I see him staring at the line thinking about what I would most like after I request something to fill my breakfast-deprived stomach, or when he gives me a fresh egg that was “definitely expired,” or when he pops around the corner to hand me a brown box with his creation simply as a surprise. Whether he is aware of this or not, he loves me through food.

I’ll forever be thankful to the OMD for loving me and for teaching me how to love others a little better. As part of being hospitable, I too enjoy giving food. One of my favorite activities is cooking together with friends, dancing around the kitchen to Kenyan pop while catching up on life and testing flavors to create something excellent. Biting into something so delicious draws me closer to God, enhancing our relationship in that moment of gratitude. Finally, I am honored to serve others food when they are sad, sick, or struggling. Thus, food connects with so many love languages and yet is its own.

 

Hanging out with my young friend, eating ugali and sombe. PC: KSB

Hanging out with my young friend, sharing ugali and sombe. PC: KSB

 

What are your love languages? How can you relate to the love language of giving or receiving food?

 

Birthday ice cream with one of my best friends. PC: KSB

Birthday ice cream with one of my best friends, Ili. PC: KSB

 

 

For more posts on this subject, read “Lunchtime in the DRC (Learning How to Eat),” which mentions Mama Julienne and how she loved me through food, and “MuKappa: A Taste of Heaven,” which hits on the communal aspect of food.

 

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As MuKappa, our Sunday events were centered around dinner. This particular photo captures the surprise birthday party that Cabinet threw me, complete with homemade soft pretzels. PC: KSB