A couple years ago I wrote a blog post called “Resting and Rising Together.” It wasn’t the first time I had mused about bread as a metaphor of a life wholly lived, and this won’t be the last. When Jesus says in the Lord’s Prayer “give us our daily bread,” and then chooses bread and wine to be the stuff by which we remember him by, what sticks with me this time is the regular, rhythmic need of this ordinary food. Don’t let yourself get stuck on the specificity of bread itself. Its ordinary nature lends itself to all kinds of basic food around the world- rice, millet, cassava, corn.
Beyond the daily need we have of whatever bread you eat, there is another universal characteristic of the crusty loaf that I’m quite sure translates to our daily food as well: resting. Baking a yeasted loaf takes time, particularly if it’s sourdough. There are many steps, and one of the most crucial is allowing the dough to rest so that the gluten can build a balloon-like network, and the yeast can fill it with gas, resulting in that spongy texture bread eaters are so familiar with.
This resting is also called fermentation, specifically the process in which the yeast feeds on the sugars in the dough and produces carbon dioxide and alcohol when left in a warm place. Most cultures have their own versions of fermentation of regular foodstuffs. Kimchi in Korea, soy sauce across Asia, injera in Ethiopia and Eritrea, sauerkraut in Germany, idli in India, kombucha in millennial kitchens across the world. These foods all need time to rest, whether that’s buried in the ground, left to sit in barrels, or just to be left alone in a warm, dark spot. The rest allows for transformation in flavor and texture, and also often leaves the food easier to digest.
It’s January, and at Shobi’s Table we’re taking the month to tend to projects that will help set the goals for this coming year in motion. I like to think of our work we’ll be doing as the internal fermentation that will make our external ministry taste even better than last year. We’ve got grants to apply for, events to plan, and administrative tasks that ensure a strong infrastructure for our daily food truck ministry to stand strong on.
I ask for your prayers during this time of rest and fermentation at Shobi’s Table. May we be good stewards of the time and space God has given us. May our whole community become even more deeply the ministry that God calls us to be. May we be rested, fermented, and transformed into love for one another this coming year.
Deacon Kari Alice Olsen
Rest and Ferment. This may be how we at Shobi’s are approaching this new year of working on behind the scenes projects, but you can also join us in resting and fermenting. Maybe in the internal aspect Kari mentioned or in the physical act of making a fermented food or beverage. This never seems to fail me when I need a little inspiration. Watching bread rise, or carbon dioxide build in the kombucha process creating a nice carbonation, I will leave you with this recipe that combines both.
Did you know that only a small percentage of our budget comes from Pay-As-You-Can donations given at lunch? We rely on our community of donors and volunteers to keep the table open on any and all. In this season of rest and renewal, we are so grateful for the gifts of time, tallents, and prayer you have surrounded us with.
Please consider keeping your support going all year by creating a recurring donation, whether monthly, quarterly or even annually. Gifts like this provide a dependable funding source and reduce fundraising costs so more of your contributions goes directly to meals we serve.