Bacon and eggs are sometimes as necessary to a celebration of the Eucharist as bread and wine. On Saturday mornings, when my two sons were still at home they were encouraged to attend the 8.00am Eucharist by the promise of a bacon and eggs breakfast afterwards. Like heaven it was a reward not a bribe.
One of the deans who was my boss in days gone by used to ask me to breakfast after the 6.30am Eucharist several times a week. He was a wild, bearded, ruddy‑cheeked bachelor and insomniac who made bread in the middle of the night. This bread was so full of gritty roughage that on its journey through the digestive tract it scraped away barnacles, straightened out kinks and scoured clean all ulcers. Combined with huge smoked sausages, a couple of eggs, strong coffee and stronger gossip it made for memorable breakfasts.
Food and parsoning go together and parsons are usually extremely good trencher men. We have food and drink pressed upon us on the majority of parish visits and nearly all significant parish events involve a meal of one sort or another.
Because I enjoy eating and love
cooking, I find food a useful topic of conversation with parishioners who
otherwise I have little in common with.
On a regular monthly visit to a remote cottage on the
An elderly priest of my acquaintance, noted for helping himself to a more than generous portion of everything available at parish meals, was once observed piling the petals from a decorative bowl of pot pourri onto his plate, imagining them some new and exotic delicacy. A spoil‑sport alerted him to the error before we had the chance to see if he wuffled his way through them with the gusto of a health freak at the muesli. Bishops too have a way with food, as I observed once in a piece of verse inspired by sitting opposite Bishop Hazlewood at a Bishop in Council luncheon:
From living rich on food and wine
that purple prelates' palates please,
On pork terrine, poached salmon, truffles,
caviar, foie gras, French cheese;
Our bishop to reality returned
last month from overseas!
At Bishop's Council lunch he faced
a pie, tomato sauce and peas!
He sat there facing me sad faced
to face the sagging faceless pie.
He rolled his eyes and pursed his lips
and spooned on sauce, and gave a sigh.
He poked the thing, which promptly spilled
its gristly gravy guts, to die,
Surrounded by the saucy peas,
to eat the which he had a try.
But memories of truffles, salmon,
camembert and stilton cheese,
All caused him sadly to retire,
with pie uneaten (and the peas),
Regretting exile here to bitter
My first parish, in
The same churchwarden asked my wife
and me to a meal at his house some months later. It was a traditional and lovely African meal ‑
the meat dish in a common bowl, the staple "sadza",
which is a savoury, stiff porridge made from ground maize, in another. Towards its end the meal suddenly developed
an almost Eucharistic significance. As
we ate happily together, blacks and whites, the guerilla
war that was to turn