So I'm in the grocery store this afternoon, buying some last minute ingrediants for tonight's dinner. I run into Tim, who is the brother of one of my high school friends. We walk around the store and chat for awhile. Tim is about to get out of school with a degree in graphic design. His sister Gwen is doing nifty things in the physics department of the University of Colorado.
The conversation winds down and I notice Tim is carrying only a box of pistachios.
He'd mentioned earlier that his mom was out of town and I know he lives with her.
"So, Tim," I said. "Would you like to kick off your big bachelor weekend with a home cooked meal? We'd love to have you..."
"What are you having?" Tim asked. (Goodness, I think, I invite him to dinner and he asks what I'm cooking. That's a fresh kid.)
"I'm making a chipotle chicken and mushroom pizza and we're having salad with it."
"Can't," he says. "I'm Catholic."
And I instantly feel bad for my assumption that he was being picky. Now we all know I wanted to tell him that I could make fish instead. And we all know he would have said I shouldn't make a fuss and he and his pistachios were fine. So I decided to save us both some awkwardness. I told him if he wanted to come over Saturday to give us a call and we said goodbye.
He works at Edie's, so I have no shortage of chances to invite him again, but his refusal has me reflecting on the fact that we as Unitarians have no dietary restrictions or food rituals at all.
I'm not even completely sorry we don't. I think often people who have that sort of thing get too caught up in the ritual but forget the meaning. At the same time, food can be a powerful thing. (Indeed, the superiority I feel when on a successful diet is far and away more intense than any religious zealotry I ever feel.)
What do we lose by not telling each other what to eat? What do we gain?