Saturday, May 14, 2011
Asparagus & Acts of The Apostles
‘Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts’ (Acts 2:43).
Over the years I’ve heard many good homilies based on this text. Without fail, they’ve focused on the devotion of the early Christians and the link between breaking bread and the need for frequent reception of the Eucharist. And I say amen to these sermons, and I suggest you say the same.
However, I’d like to just focus now on nine little words – ‘and they ate food with glad and generous hearts’, which, in keeping with the theme of this blog (the interplay between theology and food), should enhance your joie de vivre.
I chose these nine words simply out of conviction, that is, out of the sad reality that, though I sure love a good meal and all its merrymaking, I must confess that often times I do not ‘eat with a glad and generous heart’.
And I’ll bet I’m not alone. I take most of my meals not with a sense of gratitude, seeing food and wine as wondrous gifts from God, but with a sense of receiving that which I deserve, as if I am getting my due, if you will.
I know the short answer to why I’m not as grateful as I should be: I am a sinner. I’m hedonistic, narcissistic and self-absorbed. But true as this is, I’m looking for something more radical, something deeper. Calling me a sinner and yelling at me will not change me, nor will it you. I need something more; I need the Easter reality in my midst, the grace of the Living Bread that is Christ Jesus.
And this need never diminishes. And whether I’m addressing thanklessness or any other shortcoming, the cure is the same: the Risen Lord, who is alive and very much in our midst, most especially in the feast of His Table, the Eucharistic Feast.
Only by fixing our gaze on Christ, that is, only through a life with Christ at the centre can our shortcomings be healed, transformed and fade into the distance, for Christ has put away our sins through His cross and resurrection. And through the Church’s ministry of reconciliation, God is putting away our sins still!
So here comes my question, brothers and sisters: what are you hanging on to this Eastertide that isn’t being raised to new life? Why aren’t we allowing God to break down walls and take us from the stormy oceans of our previous state of corruption into the placid harbour of His most sacred heart? For this is Easter, dear ones! We are in Christ, and, as St. Paul tells us, ‘Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation. Behold, the old has passed away and the new has come’.
The new has indeed come among us - the tomb is empty, death has been trampled down, the grace is available, the mercy is endless, the healing is real and the Living Lord is calling each of us by name to know Him more intimately.
And, finally, He is certainly calling us to eat our food ‘with glad hearts’. So I want to invite you to consider asparagus and hollandaise sauce - it is certain to gladden your heart. Yep, asparagus and hollandaise sauce, which is a sauce that sounds tres bourgeois, but is really nothing more than a proper combination of egg yolks and butter! It’s easy to make; do not fret. Plus, asparagus are in season right now and they’re a delicious side dish for any meal.
P.S. Peel your asparagus, please! And don’t be afraid of this sauce just because it has a nice French name! You can make this!
The Best Hollandaise Sauce
4 large free-range egg yolks
2 cups cold unsalted butter, diced
Put the yolks, butter and 2 tbsp water in a heavy-based pan and heat very gently, whisking all the time. As the butter melts, the sauce will begin to thicken; don't be tempted to hurry things along by turning the heat up, the sides of the pan should be cool enough to touch at all times.
Once the butter has melted, turn up the heat to medium-low and whisk vigorously until it thickens: if it begins to steam, take it off the heat, but do not, under any circumstances, cease whisking.
When the sauce is thickened to your taste, stir in 1 tbsp lemon juice. Taste and adjust if necessary. Serve immediately.