Food -- and eating it together -- plays a huge role in many religions.
In Christianity, for instance, the center of Catholic worship is the Eucharist, where people from north and south, from east and west are invited to sit at the Lord's table for a foretaste of the heavenly banquet to come.
Protestants, too, gather for bread and wine at Communion, though in some denominations not weekly but quarterly. And what is more Protestant than a potluck dinner? Beyond that, what church hasn't at some point put together a cookbook made up of recipes from its members?
Judaism and Islam, too, have traditions that center around food and the gratitude followers should feel for the abundance of it.
With all that in mind, it should come as no suprise that someone might write a cookbook called Heavenly Bites: The Best of Muslim Home Cooking. It's written by Karimah bint Dawood, a convert to Islam from Catholicism and a former model in her native United Kingdom.
As many of you know, I spent two years of my boyhood in India and came to love Indian food. Indeed, many of the recipes in this book -- recipes that run from soup to sweets -- seem to be quite similar to many Indian dishes with which I'm familiar.
(Maybe I can get the person in my house who usually does the cooking to try several of these.)
The book is one more reminder of the fact that religions often share many areas of common ground, and it's hard to think of one more basic than food.
I'd write more, but as I put this entry together it's nearly lunch time and I have some leftover Taj Mahal Special Biryani waiting for me in my refrigerator from dining out with friends last night at the Taj Mahal Restaurant in KC's Waldo area. What's in the dish? Basmati rice cooked with fresh ginger, garlic, chicken, lamb, shrimp, vegetables, nuts and exotic spices. Let me at it.
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A CHRISTIAN MINORITY SPEAKS UP
Coptic Christians continue to try to negotiate life in predominantly Muslim Egypt, not an especially easy task. Now they have a new pope, who says the country's new constitution better not be overtly religious. Translated, that means he wants a safe and secure place for Christians even if the government becomes more obviously Islamic in its approach. We'll see.
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P.S.: It took me less than 15 minutes to vote yesterday morning. I wish that a few of the folks who got elected would spend no more time than that in office. I may spend a bit of time searching the blogosphere and fringe newspapers today for this sadly inevitable headline: "Muslim defeats Mormon."