A Sunday Roast

Sabbath. Rest. Recuperation.
It’s called many things in many cultures–but all the same concept: you can’t go on forever, and maybe, just maybe taking a break will make the rest of your week all the better. Apparently Sabbath comes from the Hebrew word Shabbat or “to cease” and hence we get the words like “sabbatical” or even the Greek “hottub“. Our wise ancestors even made it part of the religious tradition to assure that people upheld the importance of rest, family, discussion, etc.

Today I’m enjoying my Sabbath at a local restaurant watching all the rain-soaked (yes, the London weather we all know and love has come back) Brits fill themselves with their Sunday Roast–a meat-roast-brunch-type meal that’s the traditional family gathering on a Sunday in the UK. As I sit in the corner of a buzzing establishment, shamefully eating my ‘Veggie Roast’ (an albeit thoughtful but unsuccessful attempt of the restaurant to cater to vegetarians by supplementing the beef roast for some type of soy-and-cardboard-based meat ‘nuggets’ helplessly drowning in HP Sauce like tennis balls in a waterfall) i watch as the smells and sights of a Sunday rest surround me.

But, sitting alone as I’m unexpectedly drawn into the conversations of Denny, who Margie yells at to get attention, on his cell about some football match– I can’t help but think that this concept of Sabbath or ‘stopping’ is slowly getting more and more lost.

I was lucky enough to grow up with parents that demanded the family to sit every night together–TVs and cell phones off–to discuss what was taking place in the world– or on the plate. It was here that I first really was drawn into food–learning about the ever richer list of authentic sauces, ingredients, processes and combinations that gastronomy had to offer. Moles, Rouxs, Pestos, etc. would be combined with various pasta shapes/names, fish, meats or veggies to create an ever-enticing array of dishes that either my Mom or Dad would prepare.

Finally, the discussion would wrap around the beverages that they-and sadly only they–were allowed to drink. I would sit like a sponge absorbing descriptors like ‘tannic’, ‘dry,’ ‘creamy’, ‘lees-y’ and ‘hot’ before I had any clue what sensations those words were actually in relationship to. In fact, it was probably for this reason that on finally sipping my first sip of red wine I commented not ‘interesting’ or ‘yuck’ but ‘wow..that’s a well structured though slightly tight expression of Pinot Noir, not unlike the earthy but fruit-forward wines of Marsannay. Can you tell me the vintage?’. And here my cousin thought he was being ‘cool’ by letting me have a taste.

Apart from learning how to be annoyingly pretentious with my wine descriptors, this demand of my parents (and many nights it had to be demanded) that we all rest, if only for a moment and discuss/share made me realize how important a meal really is–and how often it can be taken for granted. Food and wine are catalysts for conversation, but a certain amount of awareness has to be involved in order to realize that. That awareness best occurs in the moments we put aside for a little relaxation, rest, and time with those around us. So whilst poor Marg sits peering into her potatoes waiting for Denny’s overly loud conversation to finish, I can’t help wondering if discussing the finer points of a well done roast might not only make Denny a little more well received by his fellow diners, but ultimately might save a fledgling relationship.

Hell, I’m alone right now and I’m even having a conversation about my meal!

Cheers and Happy Sabbath.

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