12 April 2009

The Supper Of The Lamb

The Supper of the Lamb is one of the finest examples of writing in the English language. It is a cookbook. It is a religious meditation; a meditation on life and living and food and spirit. This book is famous for its recipe for “Leg of Lamb for Eight People Four Times.”

The second chapter of The Supper Of The Lamb, entitled “The First Session,” is a ten page discussion of an onion. Think of every recipe you have ever made that included onions. I promise you that after reading Capon, you will never view an onion the same way again. You will never look at food writing the same way again, either.

As a priest, Capon practices a “waste not, want not” philosophy. This recipe takes something that generally ends up in the compost, the butt end of celery or the knob.

Celery Knobs

Peel and slice some celery knobs. Cook them, covered, in a very little water (there should be next to no liquid left). Drain, season, and brown in butter.

Here is Robert Farrar Capon's prayer for those who eat, fast, diet and hold food reverentially.

O, Lord, refresh our sensibilities. Give us this day our daily taste. Restore to us soups that spoons will not sink in, and sauces which are never the same twice. Raise up among us stews with more gravy than we have bread to blot it with, and casseroles that put starch and substance in our limp modernity. Take away our fear of fat, and make us glad of the oil which ran upon Aaron’s beard. Give us pasta with a hundred fillings, and rice in a thousand variations. Above all, give us the grace to live as true men – to fast till we come to a refreshed sense of what we have and then to dine gracefully on all that comes to hand. Drive far from us, O Most Bountiful, all creatures of air and darkness; cast out the demons that posses us; deliver us from the fear of calories and the bondage of nutrition; and set us free once more in our own land, where we shall serve thee as thou hast blessed us –with the dew of heaven, the fatness or the earth, and the plenty of corn and wine. Amen.

Happy Easter.

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