Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Eating the Sun



As I poured eggs over some repurposed truffle salt French fries from the Franklin in Gloucester, this minuscule splash reared up, freezing mid-leap from the radiant heat of the skillet.

It's just a little drip, yet it conjures images of the most spectacular celestial activities, like comet trails and solar flares, giving new meaning to the phrase "sunny side up."

And why shouldn't it? As Pollan reminds us, we are essentially sunshine eaters. The chicken that laid the egg ate the grain, which had in turn consumed the sun. It's all very chad gadyah.

It also brings to mind the words of John (Fire) Lame Deer, a Lakota medicine man who has had a tremendous impact on my thinking about most things, food included.

He said:

What do you see here, my friend? Just an ordinary old cooking pot, black with soot and full of dents.

It is standing on the fire on top of that old wood stove, and the water bubbles and moves the lid as the white steam rises to the ceiling. Inside the pot is boiling water, chunks of meat with bone and fat, plenty of potatoes.

It doesn't seem to have a message, that old pot, and I guess you don't give it a thought. Except the soup smells good and reminds you that you are hungry. Maybe you are worried that this is dog stew. Well, don't worry. It's just beef -- no fat puppy for a special ceremony. It's just an ordinary, everyday meal.

But I'm an Indian. I think about ordinary, common things like a pot. The bubbling water comes from the rain cloud. It represents the sky. The fire comes from the sun which warms us all -- men, animals, trees. The meat stands for the four-legged creatures, our animal brothers, who gave of themselves so that we should live. The steam is living breath. It was water; now it goes up to the sky, becomes a cloud again. These things are sacred. Looking at that pot full of good soup, I am thinking how, in this simple manner, Wakan Tanka takes care of me. We Sioux spend a lot of time thinking about everyday things, which in our mind are mixed up with the spiritual. We see in the world around us many symbols that teach us the meaning of life. We have a saying that the white man sees so little, he must see with only one eye. We see a lot that you no longer notice. You could notice if you wanted to, but you are usually too busy.

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