Ramadan dinner & Grandma’s potluck
When I was a child, I spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ Methodist church in Winder, Ga. It was a tiny little church, full of wonderful people with warm hearts who took care of and loved each other. In my 40 years, the church has not changed a bit, and many of the same folks still attend every Sunday.
One of my favorite events at the church was the Sunday afternoon potluck lunch. Everyone would bring a (almost always homemade) dish of food to share. A prayer was said before eating, guests were invited to take the front of the line, children ran around playing and laughing, women hurrying about in the kitchen, neighbors catching up on the latest gossip, and of course the were many discussions about food preparation and recipes. Does it sound like something you have attended at your church?
Could this be a Catholic parish picnic, an Episcopalian Wednesday night supper, a Methodist mid sabbath lunch, or a Baptist BBQ?
Does this sound like a Muslim Ramadan dinner? Believe it or not, it does. I attended the Islamic Community Center of Atlanta in Fayetteville’s interfaith dinner recently and most of all I was struck by how similar it was to my grandma’s potluck lunch.
A prayer was said before eating, guests were invited to take the front of the line, children ran around playing and laughing, women hurrying about in the kitchen, neighbors catching up on the latest gossip, and of course there were many discussions about food preparation and recipes. Sound familiar?
I must say, the hospitality was amazing ... we (the visitors) were pushed to the front of the line, even though almost all of their members had been fasting all day.
And the food was most fantastic: Spicy chicken, many types of intensely flavorful rice, ground beef in pockets of pastry dough, and in true Southern fashion, a table FULL of desserts. Most everything was homemade, and the ... OK, now this is sounding more like a food review; sorry.
The only differences between the Methodist potluck I was familiar with, and the Islamic Ramadan dinner were that there were scarves covering the women’s heads, and that the men and women were separated during the prayer and dinner. Oh, and the clothing was the most beautiful I have ever seen. Multi-colored fabrics as far as the eye could see.
I want to take a line from an article Michael Boylan wrote a few years ago about attending a gay wedding. Part of the the column was the refrain, “It was all so normal.”
This gathering felt so familiar to me. It felt like home. I only wish my grandma could have been there too. She loves a good potluck.
Peachtree City, Ga.