by Candelaria Silva-Collins, copyright 2011
A good meal, like a good play, requires the best ingredients no matter how straight-forward or complex it is. As an appreciator of live theater and home-cooked, food, I see the connection between these two life-affirming, life-sustaining entities.
Food, slow food, lovingly home-cooked (and locally source when possible) requires a lot of collaborative efforts. I cook with the memories, cooking lessons, and history of meals tasted and meals cooked coursing through my hands. I learned to cook by being in the kitchen with my mother and grandmother. I refined those lessons through pouring over cook-books, recipes, cooking shows and videos. I count on the farmers and their staff, the grocery stores and farmer’s markets to bring that food to me. I rely on the hungry mouths of children, husband, friends and family to appreciate my artistry. My cooking means nothing without appreciative (or even just hungry) mouths to eat it. There has often been theatricality in the rooms where I’ve dined, especially with family.
Theater, too, is a collaborative art. It springs from the imagination of the playwright and all of those who nurtured a love for language and stories in that playwrights’ mind. The playwright needs the director and stage manager and crew and the actors, of course, the actors who are the spice and heat and utensils that bring the play to life. An unseen play is an empty vessel indeed. Theater needs audiences to experience, appreciate (or denigrate) the food it provides.
Meals and theater spring from, reinforce and invigorate community. Food is sustenance, a necessity that can be elevated to an art and is most special when delivered with love. Theater is sustenance, necessary to souls and intellect. Both are repositories of history and hope and visions for the future.
Great food and theater are cultural mirrors that yearn beyond the particular to achieving universality.
In this age of multiple appointments, rushing and busyness, quick food and quick entertainment have more adherents, it seems, then slow food and real theater. Yet there has always been and will continue to be a desire for food and theater that have been well-crafted. This desire is not just the province of afficiandos – it is bubbling throughout society.
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