Soul Food is a Sacred Recipe for the Mind and Body

The blessing of soul food comes from cooking together and embracing each taste and morsel.

| November 2013

Soul Food

What makes soul food sacred is one's connection to the ingredients and to those who enjoy them.

Photo By Fotolia/Anyka

The stories that Rivvy Neshama tells in Recipes for a Sacred Life (Divine Arts, 2013) are both magical and down-to-earth, steeped in ancient wisdom and simple family lore. The book is a collection of short, true tales that highlight the sacred in every life. Through her writing, the kindness of the world is revealed. In this excerpt from “Part Eight,” Neshama writes of the powerful effects of soul food on the mind and body.

Recipe for the Soul

Food is alive. I forget that sometimes, until I reach up and pick an apple from our tree.

A Jewish thing. I always felt that food was sacred. At first, I thought it was a Jewish thing. Not only because we loved to eat (and had a Jewish mother urging us on), but also because we celebrate our holy days around the table, with special foods for each.

On Sabbath, we bless the wine and hallah and give thanks to the Lord, “who creates the fruit of the vine” and “brings forth bread from the earth.” On Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, we eat apples dipped in honey to bless the year with sweetness. And on Passover, we eat matzah, unleavened bread, to remember our ancestors who were slaves fleeing Egypt and had no time to let the bread rise. We eat the matzah with bitter herbs and bless them both.

But, I soon learned, this is not just a Jewish thing; it’s universal. All religions and indigenous cultures agree: Food is sacred, the source of life. It’s something to give thanks for every day.

11/10/2013 5:25:56 PM

Deliciously delightful!!! A treat for the soul!

11/10/2013 3:36:34 PM

One of my favorite quickie prayers for hungry kids: "Good Food. Good Meat. Good God. Let's EAT"! As long as there is hand-holding and joy; the sacred is present. Nicely written Rivvy!

11/9/2013 7:03:08 PM

Such a charming story, and like good food, especially chocolate, I wanted more. So, Just finished the book "Recipes for a Sacred Life" and was more delicious than chocolate. Now that says a mouthful! Thank you UTNE for the suggestion.

anabell jones
11/8/2013 1:53:10 PM

Beautiful story. I grew up in an Irish Catholic household and my mother would always call cuts of meat "gorgeous". Once my mother answered a questionnaire. On it was this question:You are going to someone's house and are supposed to bring beef tenderloin. You drop the dish on the ground as you get out of the car. Would you A) tell your host what happened an throw it in the trash B) Throw it away and tell your host you forgot your dish at home or C) Pick up the meat, brush it off, and not tell your host. I was shocked when my mother chose C. She said, "But it was a gorgeous beef tenderloin!" Irish to the core.

11/8/2013 1:06:39 PM

I much enjoyed both of the Rivvy Neshama stories you've posted. They made me smile, think about my own life, and realize that there is sacredness in so many things we do and don't even know it. Thanks, Utne!

11/8/2013 12:55:12 PM

What a wonderful writer! Her stories are beautiful. Keep 'em coming