from St Anselms Chapel Center @ USF
Since last fall we have been eating supper together at the Chapel Center after Sunday evening Eucharist. Some times different members of the group will bring in various dishes (salad, main dish, dessert). At other times we have cooked in the Chapel Center kitchen. This is always an adventure. The kitchen was renovated several years ago and is in good shape in terms of major equipment. It is, however, only mostly equipped with the smaller stuff, which means that there’s usually some improvising needed when you are already in the thick of things, food-wise.
Typically you find yourself opening all the cabinets at some point, muttering: “I thought I saw a strainer (measuring cup, salad tongs, etc.) here last week. I’m SURE I did. Where would we have put it?!” We are gradually adding those things that are most needful. Ingenuity can only go so far. A good paring knife, for example, is essential. We have discovered that a rotary pizza cutter is simply not an adequate replacement.
On a recent Sunday night, we celebrated the coming Shrove Tuesday with a pancake supper. While a pan of sausage and bacon warmed in the oven, we…
heated two electric griddles,
set the table,
started a pot of coffee….
And then started a new pot of coffee because the first had bubbled all over the counter.
It was a messy evening in general. I was one of two cooking at the griddles. My fellow cook was turning out fluffy golden brown, Aunt-Jemima-perfect pancakes. I, on the hand, seemed to be dribbling more batter on the counter than my griddle. I was also doing “add-ons”: blueberries, chocolate chips, and a tasty item called “cinnamon chips.” My plan was to pour out batter on the griddle and add the goodies as the pancakes cooked. Unfortunately, this was not a simple procedure. The blueberries tended to roll off the pancake surface, jump the griddle and bounce to the floor. The chips fared better initially but when I flipped the pancakes, the chips would melt to a gummy mess which managed to burn as well as preventing the pancakes from browning well on the bottom. Everything seemed to take longer than it should and every platter of pancakes we sent out came back empty much too quickly.
Just when I had started to wonder if we really would manage to get everyone fed, the call came back that the cookers should “Sit down and eat!” because others had finished and were ready to jump back into the kitchen. And, as it usually is with these things, all was well. We ate much more than reasonable people should but when the leftover pancakes and sausage were gathered up, loaves-and-fishes style, we had more than enough for take-away containers–another essential part of campus cooking.
In the Eucharistic liturgy, we come together to share the bread and wine in remembrance of our risen Lord. I can’t help but think that in the kitchen fellowship of shared pancakes and sausage, celebrated with shared work and mutual service, we also have a glimpse and taste of that heavenly banquet ahead.