I posted this last year around Thanksgiving, but it seems appropriate today, given the dysfunction and vitriol of the government shutdown. Hmmm, is civility just an old-fashioned idea? Or could breaking bread be the start of a conversation?

dinnerbysusan

My pastor told a story awhile back about an extended-family visit at Thanksgiving. The discussion turned to politics. His family left in a huff, before the meal was over.

A member of our church was at the dinner. “Your family is just like everyone else’s,” she said.

He laughs as he tells this story. I don’t think it’s very funny. I think it’s another symptom of our polarized, angry society.

jerusalemIn their lovely cookbook Jerusalem, authors Sami Tamimi and Yotam Ottolenghi trace the culinary history of their shared city. It’s a city splintered into various factions, chief among them Arab vs. Israeli. People stay within their ethnic, religious and political groups, surrounding themselves with the familiar.

Yet food acts as a salve among the factions. City residents shop at the same markets, the authors say. Arabs eat at restaurants owned by Jews; Jews eat at restaurants owned by Arabs. Slowly…

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