Sunday, March 19, 2006

Food is Sacrament Too!

(Hello there! We're back after a two-month long hiatus. We, the Jesuit gourmets, got busy with our individual apostolates so we have to force ourselves to "pause in silence." Since most of contributors here are either students, teachers or involved in student formation, the month of February and March are really months of "testing in the desert" or what some of our students refer to as "hell months" due to the voluminous requirements to finish.)

Sacraments, as any religion teacher would explain, are the visible signs of Christ's presence in his Church. These are acts which are supposed to make the people of God feel and experience the real presence of Jesus in the church. And so we have the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, the eucharist, reconciliation, ordination, marriage,and anointing of the sick.

What's interesting about these seven sacraments is that one of these uses food and meal as main symbols. Yes, the sacrament of the Eucharist, revolves around our basic experience of celebration and making past experiences alive and alive again. It makes use of bread and wine to make Jesus's presence real. In fact, we Catholics believe that the bread and wine become the real body and blood of Christ.

"Of all the possible human activities why are the appearances of the Risen Lord frequently associated with meals? What is in a meal that makes it the experience of the Risen Lord? Food is always associated with life. Therefore, it is no mystery that the Risen Lord who brings new life uses the symbolism of food. Food and the activity of eating are signs of the presence of life in people and in Jesus." (from An Easter People by Bishop Luis Antonio Tagle)

One of the things that helps me understand this sacrament is my own experience with my students. Last year, I accompanied them to Subic Bay for their class outing. Aside from being responsible to their parents during the entire outing, they also turned me into an instant chef. One dinner, they asked me if I can prepare pasta for them. I gladly obliged and prepared for them Spaghetti Amatriciana. The gang, finished the pasta in no time at all! Up until now, when we see each other along the corridors, we always go back to that experience and talk about it as if it just happened the day before. It always brings back memories and make them alive in each one of us. As one of my students said, one thing that he will never forget in that vacation is the pasta, haha!

In the Jesuit tradition of haustus, Scholastics and Brothers usually congregate in the pantry area to take some snacks. Here, all the creativity in making a common pantry supply like spanish sardines comes out. From dips to sandwiches to pasta - we've learned to make this ingredient versatile. What comes after is a lively chit-chat about anything under the sun. At the end of the day, when the Jesuit scholastic or brother sits alone in prayer, he gently goes back to that occasion and finds Jesus very much present there.

And so, I guess, food really has a power to bring back and make memories alive. Aside from filling up our hungry stomachs, food is a sacrament too!

Carabao (Water Buffalo) Cheese & Sardines Panini

2 med slices of Foccacia Bread
2 - 3 pieces of spanish sardines (preferrably in olive oil); drained.
carabao cheese or cottage cheese

romaine lettuce
fresh basil
alfalfa sprouts (if available)

1 tsp olive oil
2-3 tsp reduced balsamic vinegar w/ rosemary

  1. Spray or drizzle olive oil over slices of foccacia bread then grill
  2. After grilling, gently rub a piece of garlic in both sides of the bread. This will give the bread a subtle garlicky aroma and taste (I got this idea from Mario Batali)
  3. Arrange sandwich in this order: Rommaine Lettuce, Slices of Spanish Sardines, Slices of Carabao Cheese, then the alfalfa sprouts. Drizzle a little of reduce balsamic vinegar and olive oil on top.
  4. Serve the sandwhich on a plate. You may put some of the balsamic vinegar and olive oil mixture around the plate as an extra sauce and to give your sandwhich that gourmet look.


Passionate Eater said...

Thank you for your beautiful post. Welcome back! It is encouraging and inspiring to know that we can find God's presence in our daily lives--especially with the enjoyment of food. Food is definitely a uniting way to share with others of the joy of Christ. Thank you for your teaching Professor Haw.

Jhaw said...

thanks PE. your comments never fail to encourage me in coming up with new recipes and make my posts more "palatable".

by the way, congratulations for getting rid of your blog problem.

Theoretical Cook said...

Where do you get the carabao cheese po? Nice to read your posts...

katimugambalon said...

If you're near Makati, they sell good carabao cheese in the Salcedo weekend market, Saturday mornings.

I think you can also get it at SIDCOR weekend market (near the Kidney Institute, Quezon City) on Sunday mornings.

Jhaw said...

local supermarkets usually sell kesong puti, but you can't be so sure with the freshness. better follow katimugambalon's suggestion.

or if you happen to be near greenhills, you can go to greenhills sunday market, a few blocks away from santuario de san jose and very near vick belo's clinic.

stef said...

i was really blessed reading this post. thank you so much for your eloquent piece on the Real Presence. inggit nga lang ako sa kesong puti:(