Monday, May 05, 2008

Ritual Diner

Last month I attended a couple Passover Seders, like I’ve done for many years. The difference this time was that I’m studying Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, and know more about the traditions referred to in the Jewish Seder. The dinner, which can last several hours and involve ritual storytelling, lecturing, poetry, prayer, copious laughter and wine drinking, feels very Roman to me.
It’s a way of eating the Turks also enjoy, especially with mezes (appetizers). You might sit for long hours at a table, in no hurry, eating small bits in a prescribed order, then finishing with tea and smoking. Italians and Spaniards also dine this way, very slowly.
Now I should talk, cause in the past few months I’ve developed the habit of taking many of my hurried, small meals standing up in the kitchen at odd hours, sometimes serving others, sometimes reading art history over the counter. I don’t even consider them meals. Because I eat so little in general, it’s not a problem, but at least once a week I’d like to enjoy one of these long ritual dinners, in the middle of the afternoon, when the air is still and hot, with spicy red wine, oily salads, meats, cheeses and good chewy bread, conversation or reading material...

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