Under the Broom Tree: Food, Cooking & Carmelite Spirituality–Sunday Gravy

(Carmelites.net) “You should’ve been a chef, not a priest!” my father once said to me. Though he was joking, I now believe the comment was only partially in jest. Growing up in my large, extended Italian family, food—both the preparation and the consumption of it—was central to our lives. After entering religious life, my formation as a Carmelite was paralleled by my growing love for food and cooking. I didn’t realize it until later in life, but there was a lot of overlap between the role that food and gathering around the table played in our family life and my vocation as a Carmelite priest.

Family meals were where we gathered together weekly and (hopefully) laid down our differences. It was where we laughed, shared and celebrated with each other while nourishing ourselves for the week ahead.

Though it may not have always been spoken, love was evident in every aspect of our Sunday dinners in Jersey. The food was prepared with everyone in mind. The way it was served—with the patriarch, my grandfather, served last—reflected the deep sense of responsibility for the family that permeated our ethos as a family. But most importantly—though we certainly weren’t well off—like the miracle of the loaves and fishes, there always seemed to be an abundance at our meals. [more]