As you walk down the crowded streets of Turfloop you are bombarded with street vendors selling anything and everything you can imagine. You stroll by the fresh fruits and vegetables and can tell which ones are currently in season, you walk by the braaiers who are cooking up whole chickens over the fire, you pass nail polish, hats, chips, matches, and sweets- but at the end of all this you walk by a small street vendor near the university which is the most popular of them all. As you pass by, the wind blows slightly and carries the smell your way- and you are taken back to your childhood, standing in front of a funnel cake stand at the fair. This stand sells one of
How can something with the name “fat cakes” be so popular? I doubt that if we were to rename doughnuts (which are probably more fattening than the version here in
1) Carbohydrates are not avoided. In fact, if you do not have carbs with every meal then you can not have a meal! Whether it be bread, rice, pasta, or the preferred pap, each meal comes with a heaping serving of carbohydrates.
2) Calories do not exist in
3) Portions are extremely large here, as food is a very central part of the rural South African lifestyle. Yes, portions in the
4) Eating well means eating all the food on your plate. If you eat well, it shows that you are happy, or the food will bring you happiness. If you do not gain weight in your first few months in
5) Fat cakes, cookies, and biscuits of any sort are not avoided! Even though they may be fattening, South Africans just enjoy their goodness without the thought of carbs or calories, and it is relieving!
Yes, there are major problems with obesity here, just as is seen in the
In typical southern fashion, my usual saying is “butter = love”, but a farm wife from Illinois sums this up much better in a book I recently read, Food for Life. She wrote, “Food is love. When food is used as God intended, it can manifest God’s love for us, as well as our response to that love.” Often food is not associated with God or theology. Although some of us say grace over every meal, we do not realize the miracle that it truly is- how the world becomes a part of us and restores us to life. God provides this food, and makes this whole process of restoration possible. In Food for Life, L. Shannon Jung claims that God’s intention for food is that we delight in it and share it with others, both of which I agree. I think most of our problems with food arise from not using it like God intends. The modern day fast-food lifestyle leaves little time for delight and promotes eating alone- breaking both rules. Overeating is a form of greed and usually an attempt to use the delight available in food to satisfy other desires. Anorexia and bulimia take out both the delight in food and the sharing of meals with others. If we were simply to eat food in moderation for delight and to share it with others like the Lord intended, then perhaps our unhealthy relationships with food would come to an end.
We all enjoy sharing meals with others and engaging in conversations which add to the delight of the meals, but how far does this sharing go? A few months ago I had a dream about my pantry and refrigerator back at home in
Together we can bring our relationship with food back to what God originally intended. We can stop the societal pressures which drive us to obesity or anorexia and thus remove the delight from eating and stop us from seeing food as the blessing and miracle that it is. We can associate food with God more intentionally to strengthen this relationship. We can be conscious of how our food habits affect others all over the world. So delight and share the food with which God has graced us- especially the fat cakes!
~Heather Anne Nelson