Last night, my Reiki teacher brought some of her left overs to share with us after my attunement. So I brought out our leftovers as well. This included collard greens Chilean butternut squash, cauliflower with cheese sauce, cabbage casserole, macaroni and cheese, and salad. As things made it to the table, Maryanna expressed how excited she was to try the casserole and the macaroni and cheese, as they are legendary. Her comment caught me off guard, as I have never thought about food or a dish as being legendary. I had no idea my cabbage casserole, which I still do not like, or my macaroni and cheese were so well known as to be legendary. However, apparently they are.
As I thought about this, I began to remember a conversation earlier in the week between my friends Nina, Sam and my wife Zoe. They were all talking about the dishes I had made for them that left them lingering for more. They enjoyed them so much that months after eating them the memory of the experience in their mouths lingered on and left them remembering and savoring every delectable bite. To be honest, nothing that I make leaves me with that feeling, although I am glad it does that for others.
The one dish I have had in my life that had that affect on me was fresh corn with saffron and marscapone at the restaurant in the Strathallen Hotel in Rochester, NY. I remember ordering the dish because I was hungry and it had scallops (one of my favorite seafoods). The scallops were not at all memorable, but the corn was. It was so good that I had to have seconds and had to tell the chef how amazing the corn was. I have been trying to perfect this dish at home ever since, but have not quite struck the perfect balance of marscapone, corn and saffron.
I think what makes something legendary for people is that remember ability factor. That ability to remember eating something and it transports you to another place and time and you can remember with vivid detail how it tasted and exploded with flavor with each bite and memory.
That legendary affect is not just about people and food, but also about spiritual moments. One of the most legendary sermons I have ever heard in my life is one where I did not understand a single word. The whole sermon was presented in some Chinese dialect. What I remembered was not what she said, but how I felt as she delivered her sermon. I could feel the presence of the spirit surrounding me as she preached. Even today, eleven years later, I can still envision myself sitting in the back of the room, listening to this sermon and being swept away by the passion and emotion, which flowed through my body, changing the way I experienced God’s presence in my life. Interestingly, this was the only sermon not delivered in English, but it was the one that for me remains legendary to this day.
There are scriptures in various sacred texts, which have that same effect on me. There was a Buddhist writing I read once and have never been able to find it since. I vividly remember the beginning and end of the writing and repeat it all the time. “If God woke you up this morning then you are blessed, if God did X then you are blessed, if God did Y then you are blessed, but if God did nothing more then wake you up this morning then you are blessed.” Or the scripture from the book of Romans which reminds us to “not conform to the ways of this world, but be transformed in it through the renewing of your mind.” Or the Yorubic proverb, “God drives away flies for a cow which has no tail.” Each time I read these, hear them, or even think about them, I can remember the feelings that filled my soul the first time I heard them and how often they float back into my memory. They are for me legendary. They may not speak to others the way they speak to me, but for me these are as legendary as my macaroni and cheese is to my friends.