The Table of My Ancestors: Week 11 (Egypt)

To read the post that started it all, click here!

It’s been nearly three months of exploring my ancestry through food, and I am learning so very much. I’ll be honest — there have been a few recipes that fell flat because the kids’ palates aren’t as adventurous as mine. But even then, the joy that comes from sitting down to a common meal as a family is worth it all.

The table is central to our family’s theology. It represents the wide welcome of Christ to feed on God’s feast of goodness, mercy, and love. It is also the great equalizer: no matter what divides us or what our differences may be, we all come to the table as equals, as those who hunger and desire to be filled. There’s a reason that food and feasting and tables are so prevalent in scripture, I think. God desires that we all get our fill.

The table is where we connect — to God, to each other, to our community as we remember those who don’t have enough, as we work to give them what they need. It’s a place where we get to be ourselves, where we’re always welcome and wanted, where we can talk and taste and share stories and catch glimpses of the divine in each other.

What we eat doesn’t really matter, in the end. Whether the kids like it is unimportant. But that space and time together — it’s there that the air between heaven and earth is thin.

With all this in mind, I set out to make chicken shawarma this week. If you haven’t heard of shawarma before, it’s a dish that consists of thin slices of meat that are stacked in a sort of cone shape. The meat (which of course is exquisitely seasoned) is then roasted on a slow-turning vertical spit, and then served in flat bread as a kind of sandwich.

Now, I obviously don’t have a vertical spit to roast meat on, so I gave my best effort via oven roasting the chicken. Of course, there weren’t as many crispy bits as an authentic shawarma, but the star of the show was really the seasoning. I have loved experimenting with all these different flavors!

My son refused to even try it, and my daughter only ate the flatbread, so obviously, they weren’t the biggest fans. But it opened up a conversation about why I am making so many Egyptian meals this month, and I was able to explain my Egyptian heritage to them, which they both thought was pretty cool.

Next week is my last Egyptian recipe, and then we’re off to España!