A PEEK INTO THE POTS AND PANS OF RELIGIOUS FOLLOWINGS
The prospect of a public outdoor pool after a hot summer’s day would probably get a DNA scientist pretty excited. Well, pots and pans are just as good as that old DNA pool. Inside you will find pretty much everything homo sapiens have to offer: Billions of different traditions, our quaintest endeavours and our most shameful moments. On that note, future generations might think that a global obesity epidemic of under 5 year olds was rather unnecessary, but that’s beside the point. Food is an excellent way to see what’s going on in any given community, especially when it is a tight-knit religious following.
There are tight-knit religious followings and then there is Hare Krishna. A movement, which operates at the periphery of religious legitimacy and has had a truckload of bad press. The Hare Krishna temple on Brooklyn’s Schermerhorn Street is used as a place of worship, meditation and houses two communal housing complexes. Without further ado, here is a taste of a day in this commune.
“We are trying to prepare 108 different food items as an offering for Krishna and his consort, his girlfriend, as tomorrow is her birthday.”
Fighting the Sunday Blues at a church cafeteria
If you want to know what’s going on at the United House of Prayer, you better visit “Bailey’s Café” on Fulton Street in Brooklyn. Through offering a Sunday soul food feast at the cafeteria located above the church, Pastor Apostel Sewell likes to see his community come together after service. The menu changes every Sunday — meatloaf, pigs feet, fried chicken or chitlins (pigs’ intestines) — but there is always a scuffle for the last piece of sweet potato pie.
It is safe to say that soul food is as vital to this community as the church service itself. And this isn’t just happening on Fulton Street in Brooklyn. There are 150 House of Prayer churches across the country, the majority of which come with soul food cafeterias.
There is no talking about soul food without acknowledging where it comes from and how it was cultivated. Born during the times of slavery when Pastor Apostel Sewell’s grandparents had to make ends meet, the scraps from the master table turned into a delicacy. These delicacies have become staples of the American diet, though for many, this country’s darkest past still holds court, as Pastor Apostel explains: “We still have this pain in our heart because we have been treated like this.” Once stopped and frisked by the police himself, the pastor had to teach his sons how to carry themselves if they get stopped.
The pastor feels that race will continue to play a role in America, one that systematically disadvantages black people: “Over 100 years we are still going through this racial stuff that we are going through today. This race. It is not going to change, it is not going to get no better. Race is not going to stop in America towards us. Even with the college degrees we have there is always going to be a limitation to how far we can go in life.”