Loaves and Fishes

by Tara Agacayak on September 7, 2009

If you follow our Intarsia Concept blog, you might have noticed that we’ve been working with a group of artisans affiliated with the Municipality of Golcuk. My friend Dilek who is the director of the art gallery asked us if we would take the group on one of our artisan excursions. We happily agreed and set about making our plans.

With everyone on tight budgets, we wanted to arrange the day to be as economical as possible. Dilek found us a car and driver and rather than eat out, everyone decided to bring something to share for lunch.

Generally speaking the American culture is much more individualistic and Turkish culture is much more group oriented. So in America, this would normally mean – everyone bring your own lunch. And everyone would fend for herself, bringing whatever she decided she would like to eat, or buy something from the grocery store the night before.

Aside from that, in both cultures everyone’s economic situation may be different, so someone might bring a really posh lunch while someone else might bring peanut butter and jelly making the differences between people’s financial situations glaringly apparent. But when you say, bring something to share, it all sort of gets equalized and balanced out.

So when the day for our tour arrived, we all piled into the van and put our food into the middle to be shared. When we were hungry, Sule started passing out sandwiches and borek (a savory pastry that helped me gain 40 pounds after moving to Turkey), cake and fruit. She poured glasses of water and sent napkins forward. I’m not sure who brought what, but I know that everything was delicious and it made the simple cheese sandwiches that I brought a lot less boring by getting to taste everyone else’s goodies along with them.

And I was thinking how this food multiplied by sharing it. That if I had just brought lunch for myself and everyone had just brought lunch for themselves it would have been fine, but sharing it made the whole experience richer and the food taste better.

I can’t remember who told me this, but I recently heard an interesting interpretation of the story of the loaves and the fishes. If you don’t know the bible story, it refers to an event where Jesus went to give a sermon and many people gathered to hear him. But there wasn’t enough food to feed everyone who had gathered – just a few loaves of bread and several fish. The story goes that Jesus performed a miracle and the bread and fish were multiplied in such a way that everyone gathered there had enough to eat and there was even food left over.

The interpretation that I heard was that the miracle wasn’t about Jesus creating bread and fish out of thin air, but that the message of love from his sermon inspired people to share the bread and fish that they had secretly brought but had been hiding from each other. There actually was enough food for everyone once they felt compelled to share it. In fact there was more than enough.

As we all passed around our food in the van, I thought of that story and felt very content as I munched on my sandwiches and cookies. Sharing what we have is way better than settling with food for one. We get to try something we may not have had before and somehow there almost always tends to be plenty for everyone.

All of this applies for everything except chocolate. In matters of chocolate, for me there doesn’t ever seem to be enough and if you ask my husband, it is a miracle if I share.

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