I spent the first ten days of the new year with a miserable cold. Among other things, this meant that I did not participate in January 6th’s International Pulse Feast, on which people all over the world were encouraged to invite “friends, family or work colleagues” to share a meal of pulses (that would be beans, peas, lentils, and such).
Instead, I spent the day blowing my nose, drinking big mugs of soup, and re-reading Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. Which got me thinking. In the novel, if enough people worship something, a new god springs into existence. Gods like Media and Technology, who suck up all our attention, leaving the old gods hungry.
In this construct, surely Food qualifies for its own deity. Not everyday food-as-sustenance, but Food, that ideal to which we build Instagram altars and ziggurats of gluten-free cupcakes, not to mention sacrificing enough livestock to satisfy an entire pantheon.
And then there are the food holidays. There are as many food marketing boards as there are saints, and each food or ingredient has its own feast day. There are so many of these that some overlap; today (January 12) is both Curried Chicken Day and Marzipan Day.
I usually ignore these events, not least of all because most of the food days promote sugary, highly processed, generally unhealthy food, and I don’t actually think people need encouragement to eat more potato chips (March 14) than we already do.
I did want to encourage people to eat more pulses, though, and I still do. They’re delicious, cheap, and easy. Kids like them. Grown-ups like them. They’re good for the environment, good for farmers, and super-good for you, despite what the high priests of Paleo might have told you. If we all ate a little less meat and a little more beans and lentils, the world would be a better place in so many ways. (I’ll stop proselytizing now.)
Fortunately, I’m fairly sure the gods of curried chicken and marzipan won’t mind if you make a pot of lentils tonight. And if any friends, family, or work colleagues would like to come over for a pulse potluck one of these evenings, email me and we’ll make it happen.