Sunday, April 4, 2010
It's said that Tulsa is part of the buckle of the Bible Belt, the part of the U. S. of A. known for its people's enthusiasm about church-going and the cultural proclivities that seem to go along with that.
While the Bible Belt term tends to pack a negative connotation, loaded with assumptions about the prejudices and crusades of folks who've got religion, we're not a region made up exclusively of Bible thumpers.
Not even close. Though we certainly do have them. But you know what? Most of them are nice people anyway.
My husband and I have been looking for a church to call our own since we got married about five and a half years ago. After a several Sunday mornings spent shifting uncomfortably in pews all over town, an awkward house visitation or two and, yeah, even a little hearbreak, we think we've finally found a place to call home.
There are lots of reasons we've chosen to go to church where we do.
The food, which is outstanding, sealed the deal.
Of course, there are lots of other things that I particularly like about the church, too - more important things, you might say.
But to me, good food is pretty darned important. Spiritual, even, for me.
The food at our new church is prepared by our very own chef. He puts together everything from the sweet breads for coffee to the small plates for special events to full-on suppers, and it's all fabulous. The food at this church has was even featured in a local magazine not long ago.
It's not about the food simply tasting good. It's not even about the food itself, however much I've been impressed by it. For me, it's about listening. It's about attention to detail, too. It's reflective of the other things we like about this church - the careful observance of history and tradition, and the thoughtful and decidedly not intrusive gestures that have been made by the members of the parish to welcome us and inform us about why this church does the things it does and how we can be part of it all.
These kinds of things, they work for us.
I really enjoyed boasting to my friends and family that I'd been attending this new church for about eight months and had yet to see a casserole at a church function. I'd seen a lot else - bacon-wrapped water chestnuts, dark chocolate-covered apricots, mesclun mix - but not a single mushy, overcooked, over-seasoned casserole.
See, when I think about church food, I think of three things: Jello and fruit salad, boxed mashed potatoes and green bean casserole. All three are morasses of processed ingredients, the last of which is soggy and sopping with canned cream of mushroom soup.
After this morning I can't tout a casserole-free church anymore, but at least I can be sure that no Campbell's was used in the making of the brunch casseroles we had before Easter service.
Here's what happens when you care enough to make a casserole out of fresh ingredients and not cook the living hell out of it.
Yeah. I went back for thirds. And I am not ashamed.
There's a reason I've left the name of the church out of this post. I figure that if you're interested in learning more than what I've mentioned in this post, you'll contact me so we can have a conversation about it, person to person. I'm not interested in fielding complaints that I've used my blog to proselytize.
At least, not to proselytize about religion.
About food, now, that's a different story.
If I find good food made by people who care about it, whether it's in a Tulsa diner, a bistro or a church, you can bet I'm gonna do what I can to spread the word.
For I am a soldier fighting a good fight, even if it is only against slimy green bean casserole.