Food is not unsung these days, quite the opposite. Our foodie and consumer culture fetishizes it. The constant spill of images whetting desire to look and to own almost obliterates its origins of sustenance.
A day without food – a fast, hunger strike, poverty – will bring its essential quality right on back. Food, glorious food! Muslims are currently observing Ramadan, a month of neither eating nor drinking, from sunrise to sunset. The traditional custom of breaking the fast is a glass of buttermilk, a handful of almonds and harira soup. Imagine the tang and silk of the first sip of buttermilk, the blossoming spices in the warm harira. Maybe the sun glistens on a layer of olive oil, and underneath the diner finds a substantial puree of earthy legumes. There is a bit of grit, a nose of minerals, a head of fragrant odor. Most cooks make harira with lamb, but a vegan version, with plenty of lemon, is complete. The “kitchen sink” soup of chickpeas, lentils, vegetables, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, pepper binds together like a world. Harira, as an object of worship, will last only a few minutes; it beckons, it is met, and the body are soul are nourished.