A Reflection on Eating Simply
by Abbey Dupuy
My children crowded beside my elbow as we served the Bean Soup with Squash and Rice.
“So, it doesn’t have any meat in it at all? No chicken?” my daughter inquired, carrying her plate to the table.
My oldest son rolled his eyes. “No, silly, it’s for Lent,” he groaned.
“No way!” she retorted. “It’s not even Lent yet for a while! It was just Christmas!”
Over their bickering, I tried to let them know that we were tasting this recipe ahead of time so we could review it. “Other families might want to try it, too, so we’re going to let them know how we like it,” I told them.
“Oh,” my daughter said, “I definitely think it would be better with some chicken in it.”
* * * *
Growing up, I remember well sitting at my grandmother’s table as dinner drew to a close. Everyone was waiting for dessert, but we had to clear our plates first. It was important to Grandmother that we all be members of her “Clean Plate Club” and finish all of our food. It was wasteful to leave food behind. Worse than that, it was ungrateful. “There are children starving in China,” she would tell us. “Don’t you feel bad about that? Finish your meat.” I never would have complained about what she served. After all, children in poor countries who had no food would be happy to have what I didn’t want to eat.
These lectures about those poor children in developing countries were well intended, but they did little to encourage me to care about their plight. I couldn’t exactly box up my uneaten hamburger steak and mail it to Africa. Mostly, the scoldings about food just made me feel guilty.
Sharing recipes from around the world with my own children feels like a more authentic way of teaching gratitude and empathy. Instead of painting a portrait of “poor, starving children” in other countries, we are expressing solidarity with families and children around the world. It is true that many people have less than we do. It is true that we should be grateful for our abundance. It is true that especially during Lent, we should share with those who have less. It is not true, however, that people in developing countries need our pity and our guilt over unfinished hamburger steak. Instead, they need us to think of them as our brothers and sisters, to consider their unique gifts and their unique needs, and to find ways to help them that are life-giving and sustaining. We appreciate the work of Catholic Relief Services and the opportunity to support ministries that make a difference in the lives of others without condescending.
As our family enjoyed the bean soup together, we lit a candle and prayed for the people of Honduras. We found the country on the globe and talked about the climate and language there. My children had lots of questions about the people and the culture. In the midst of this lively discussion, I was grateful- not just for everything we have, but for the chance to try this recipe in this way. It gave us a chance not just to learn a little about Honduras but to express our solidarity with our brothers and sisters there as we ate our meal. When my children look back on this meal, I hope they remember how we prayed for Honduras. I know that’s what I’ll remember…not whether they left any food on their plates.
from CRS staff in Honduras
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 T fair trade olive oil
- 3 15-oz cans red beans, drained
- 2 c water
- 1 vegetable bouillon cube
- 1 yellow chili, seeded and minced
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
- 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes with liquid
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 chayote squash, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes (may substitute yellow squash or zucchini)
- Fresh cilantro
- 4 c cooked white rice
Sauté onion, bell pepper and garlic in oil until translucent. Add beans, water and bouillon, and heat thoroughly. Add yellow chili, jalapeño, tomatoes, lime juice and chayote, and simmer on low for about an hour. Add cilantro and serve over rice.
About the Author:
Abbey Dupuy writes her life as a homeschooling mom of four at Surviving Our Blessings. In her spare time, she can be found running, reading cookbooks, singing the songs that play in her head and occasionally flying by the seat of her pants. This Lent, she and her husband, George, are practicing photography as a spiritual discipline with HolyLens, a photo-a-day project based on the lectionary scriptures. Participants share their photos on social media with the hashtag #holylens and encourage each other as they seek out the sacred in their everyday lives. Join their community of camera-carrying pilgrims on Facebook and Instagram. You can learn more about the HolyLens project here.