Day Seven: I Had Bratwurst Tonight

I take a deep breath and pick up the phone. People on Facebook are always explaining what they eat, so
“Hey, I’m having bratwurst,” I tell an acquaintance.
“Okay,” he says.
“I just thought you should know,” I awkwardly explain.
“Is this a confession?” he asks.
“Well, eat without guilt. You could die tomorrow.”
“Have fun with your bratwurst. Okay, that didn’t come out right. Enjoy your brawts.”

Minutes later I call up Quinn the Business Bohemian. I stall for a moment when I hear the answering message about travelling to Europe. “Hey Quinn, I just thought I would update you on my status. I’m eating bratwurst and chips for dinner. Not sure how that fits into the food pyramid. So, yeah, just thought you should know.”

Finally I call my brother-in-law and recognize what’s missing. I don’t practice random hospitality. I feel this obsessive need to show that I have it all together before someone visits the house. However, with David I go an alternative route. “I have tons of bratwurst and I’m bored. Want to come over?”

I call Quinn the Business Bohemian and explain, “Just thought I would update you on my status. I know you’re out of town, but I thought you should know what I’m eating. I made this random soup from the leftover roast. It has carrots and tomatoes and black beans and onions. Pretty much any random item in the fridge. I might at some rice to it. Oh, and I added spices.”

An hour later, I tell the neighbors, “I made a soup from the roast.”
“Sounds tasty,” she says.
“It turned out pretty good. I just tossed in a bunch of random things.”
“Like a garbage stew?”
“I wouldn’t call it garbage, but that’s the idea,” I tell her.
“I’d love to try a bite,” she says.
So, I give her a bowl and she gushes about how great it is. This beats

It’s chicken nuggets and steamed vegetables. I’m so badly wishing it was meatloaf so that I could at least crack a joke about eighties power ballads.
“Just calling to tell you my status. I’m feeding my kids some chicken nuggets,” I tell a friend.
“Are they home-made?” he asks.
“No, they’re warmed up in the microwave.”
“Sometimes you run out of time and you just have to go with stuff from a package.”
“Crazy thing is they’ll like this better than if I made a casserole.”

I explain to a former co-worker, “Status update. I’m eating a stew.”
“You sound pretty normal for having food in your mouth.”
“Well, it’s not in right now.”
“What kind of stew is it?”
“It’s actually a goulage, which I think is a fancy word for soup. I’m not sure how it’s spelled, though. It can’t be gulag. That’s a Russian prison camp.”
“Well, have a nice day,” he tells me.
“You, too.”

I tell Javi the Hippie about my dinner. He tells me that Boston Market once gave him the runs for a week. This forces me to give him a private message that he just ruined my dinner. I suggest, however, that he should have the roast I just made. We end up deciding on sharing a pint.

*     *     *

My friend Brad the Philosopher runs a hospitality house with his wife. He once described the loneliness that soldiers face and by the end of his description, I was in tears.  He said that we’re dying for tangible community.  It’s why we need to eat after a funeral and why Jesus shared a meal in his last hours with his friends.  When I was in college Brad and Debbie used to have college students over for dinner every night.  I never felt closer to a community than in those times and the food was a major contributor.

I once mocked people who give meal-based Facebook status.  And maybe there’s reason for the mockery.  However, I’m recognizing that there is something profound in the simple act of breaking bread (it’s why I’m opposed to sliced bread).  Perhaps we update people with what we’re eating, because on a more visceral level, we want to share a meal.

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3 thoughts on “Day Seven: I Had Bratwurst Tonight

  1. Well, that certainly is food for thought…! 🙂 It seems to make so much sense now! Exploration leads to understanding!

  2. Families rarely share meals anymore. I think that’s why during a date you share a meal because the conversation while breaking bread is not such a luxury. Many families watch tv or eat alone and work. I recently ate dinner while skyping with my best friend and her kiddos in Brazil. I enjoyed it immensely as did they because sometimes I tend to just eat dinner and work on the computer. I think it’s meaningful and healthy to enjoy conversation and a long meal. I like meals that take hours with good company and lots of laughter. In a lesson with my adult students in Germany I asked them to bring in their Bucket List. Of 10 students at least 5 had having meals with people on the list. One girl said she wanted to have her 7 closest friends all at the same table. We voted as a class on which ones we’d add to our list and this was a popular one. Something so simple is very meaningful to people.

  3. I grew up having family meals. Sometimes I feel that we don’t do a good enough job at that in our family. I’m intrigued by a dinnertime Skype. Sounds very cool.

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