I love food. I love love love food. What a great idea food was, God.
Last night for my birthday I was taken out to Roast in Borough Market. It is a lovely restaurant with beautifully cooked food, good wine and superb service. Somehow they have made sitting in a room with railway tracks on either side romantic and relaxing. Well done them. I ate roast beef cooked medium rare with yorkshire pudding, crispy and delicious roast potatoes, cabbage and the best carrots I have EVER tasted. I could barely believe they were carrots they were so stunning. To accompany it I ordered a caraffe (yes, that’s right, a caraffe) of English Red wine. A blend of Pinot Noir grapes. Sometimes I think there is nothing better than a really good meal with really good wine. The experience only enhanced the food. I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t partake of their puddings, including a fascinating sounding chocolate banoffee pudding…oh my. I was simply too full at that point.
But this is extravagance. Absolute extravagance. The sort of extravagance outdone only by Heston Blumenthal’s ridiculous, fascinating, nonsensical and irresistible menues. And I’m not actually a snob. Yes, I love this kind of fine dining, but I equally love (for example) eating home made curry with my hands, sitting on the floor, covered in paint and surrounded by friends. This was what Becky Swamickan did for us 2 years ago when we were redecorating a community centre used by Oasis. She brought us the food in Tiffin tins and it was possibly the most gratefully received food I have ever eaten. Another great meal was one I shared with Cathy just before we embarked on a 24 hour prayer and fast. We picked up some fresh bread and port salut cheese and ate it on the bus back from France. Good times.
Last night’s meal was stunning. I am so grateful that I am able to experience that sort of thing, but what I never want to happen is that I become accustomed to it and take it for granted. I know people who eat rice with a thin dal every day. When they’re lucky they get 50g of meat or an egg – maybe twice a week. I once saw them wake up and get their breakfast of rice still in the water it was boiled in. Some of them had sachets of chutney – but only 1 or 2 out of 130 of them. I am of course talking about the boys at the YMCA Boys Town in Kottivakkum, South Chennai.
I don’t think we should feel guilty about eating well. I believe that God made food tasty for a reason. I believe he wants us to take pleasure in eating – otherwise why would he have made it so pleasurable? But I also think we shouldn’t take anything for granted. If anything it should make us more aware of the things we have – and what it means to not have those things. I hope that what we do with Chennai Challenge makes some difference and improves the quality of life for these boys, and the others we work with. I think it does.
Another favourite meal – and one of enormous consequence – eating biryani in the dark with 130 boys from Kottivakkam whilst sitting on the floor of their accomodation. We have continued this tradition – although we generally have light now (the electricity supply went out – hence the darkness). There is something very special about sharing food, and I thank them for the privilege of being able to share with them.