Food, Drink, and Community

by Aaron Brown July 13, 2011

[L]ast weekend, my husband (Peter) and I brewed our first beer. A couple of weeks before our recent wedding, we had taken advantage of an online deal for a homebrew starter kit, but we had decided it was best to wait until we were back from all our wedding travels to actually use it. So last weekend we invited our friend Chris (a masterful homebrewer with a large investment in brewing supplies) to help us get started, and our friend Dave for his witty remarks. We started out by watching the very-homemade instructional video, which was as entertaining as it was poorly-produced, though also mildly instructional. Once we got started, the brewing process went smoothly, thanks in no small part to Chris's amazing gadgets, including an amazing chiller, some huge pots with spigots on them, and a glass carboy (as opposed to the plastic one we were provided in our kit). The process itself was a fun one, with beer, snacks, records and lots of chatting interspersed. During the process, I also made up some savory pesto muffins in order to use up some of basil that is taking over our backyard garden. The whole day was centered around the making and consuming of food and drink, and even if we had not come out with anything edible/potable in the end, I would have still loved the day and the process. I grew up in a large family, where there was always a sense of community centered around food (and always one or two extra people at dinner), and our brewing day definitely brought back those memories. I know I am not alone in this type of food/drink-community connection and nostalgia, however, and the evidence is right there in the latest Ruminate. Issue 20: Feasting is filled with examples of people coming together over food. This poem from Jeffrey Dodd is an excellent illustration. Letter to James from the Wavering Highway by Jeffrey G. Dodd
Remember the kettle, the smoke flooding the already dark porch. Remember your mother, in her grave two years already that night. What would she say about the kettle, full of lamb, carrots, the potatoes we’d cut? What would she say about the chain of clouds thick in the sky as we collected garlic tops, scurrying to finish before the sharp sky spilled its own soup and turned the garden mud, made us blind? Remember, James, the bruise you got when you opened the door into your own face, the animal yelp you let out, the smoke that still clung to the air and eyes. Remember us sipping your mom’s stew—two blind, hungry fools trying to raise the dead.
As portrayed so elegantly in this poem, the smells and actions of making food are ones that evoke memories, and resurrect in our minds those with whom we've shared past meals. The beginnings of an irish stout (deemed "Hair of the Dog" in light of the couple of dog hairs we plucked out of the wort) now reside in our basement, bubbling away, and we are looking forward to the many get-togethers with friends and family at which the results will be enjoyed and the brewing day remembered.


Aaron Brown
Aaron Brown

Author

In addition to having work previously in Ruminate, Aaron Brown has been published in Transition, Tupelo Quarterly, Portland Review, and Cimarron Review, among others. He is the author of Winnower (Wipf & Stock, 2013) and is a Pushcart Prize nominee. An MFA graduate from the University of Maryland, Aaron lives with his wife Melinda in Sterling, Kansas, where he is an assistant professor of writing and editing at Sterling College. More can be found at http://www.aaronbrownwriter.com



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