By now, it should be no surprise to anyone that one of my favorite shows on television is Chopped. It used to be Iron Chef America, but it was replaced by Chopped for a number of reasons. One of the reasons I am addicted to this show is that I love the creativity of these chefs who are just everyday people like me who come with their stories about how food changed their lives, how it has crafted their souls, and how you can learn about them by how they honor or dishonor an ingredient. There have been so many shows, which have taught me profound lessons, not just about the ingredients but also about life itself.
Last night, October 23, 2012, was no exception. It was an interesting episode where the theme was head to tail. The appetizer gave them a basket with a pig’s head. The entrée gave them a pig’s heart, liver, and kidney. The dessert gave them pigs’ tails. While each of the baskets had a story to tell, the offal really spoke to me spiritually. As usual there were four ingredients in the basket, dried morel mushrooms, fiddlehead ferns, some sort of crème liquor, and a bag of pigs’ offal. Each of the chefs approached this basket differently. Two of the three chefs made the decision to treat each of the offal differently. The third chef made the decision to make a pasta dish cooking all three of the pieces of offal in the same way and for the same amount of time. As a result, some of the offal were prepared nicely and others were well done. While the creativity and the vision were interesting and the dish was visually appealing, from my perspective, it failed in execution, the offal being just one of the reasons.
As I have been thinking about this, it reminded me of how this is how we are as a world right now. There are those who recognize that each of us has unique needs and histories. Some of us, for example, are visual learners, some are auditory learners, and some of us are kinesthetic. Spiritually, some of us are best able to evolve through our association with an organized religion, others are not. Those who feel most grounded in organized religion each have their own preparation, so to speak, which brings out the best in them. While Judaism, for example, might be the best preparation for one person, it might leave someone else under or overcooked because it was not the best path for him or her to follow.
In some respects, we have much to learn from offal. We are each different; some of us are hearts, some kidneys, some livers. The reality is that we each have our unique gifts that we bring to the table and need to be “prepared” in the manner that is best for us. The offal truth is that we must honor each other for who and what we are, supporting each other in the uniqueness and beauty of who we are and what we bring to the table of humanity.
It is a strange thing when you are taking a shower and thinking about offal. However, this morning, it dawned on me there was another offal truth I had not shared originally. Each piece of offal serves a particular function in the life of the animal from which it came, in this case the pig. Each has its own gifts and function. We are the same way, some of us are hearts, others kidneys, and others livers. We each have been blessed with our own gifts and talents and serve a unique purpose in this life. Like the offal, we are able to work together to create something greater then our individual parts. We can work with each other, without becoming each other. We each serve our own purpose and function in life. That is another offal truth.