The Gospel According To Ready Meals (or not)

DSC08572a by Ian Fuller
DSC08572a, a photo by Ian Fuller on Flickr.

I had to smile at Sarah Dean’s description of a ready meal in last months Third Way magazine.

Preheat oven to 190c. Pierce film lid. Place on baking tray in the middle of oven for 20 minutes. During this cooking time take the opportunity to do modern stuff like tweeting about how hungry you are, playing Fruit Ninja on your phone or watching a quarter of an episode of Masterchef (oh the irony). Peel back film lid and stir. Cook for a further eight and a half minutes. Leave to stand for two minutes before serving. During this time compare the picture on the packet with the gloop in the container. Feel mild disappointment. Consume.

The contrast was experienced last night sitting round a table with eleven other people to celebrate the hosts “special” birthday. Every item of the evening was thoughtfully put together from the seating plan to the exquisite food. They had even arranged the weather such that we sat out all night! Whilst ready meals offer much from their packaging they are never quite as good as you would hope. Their contents become functional fuel for the body as opposed to a meal that not only feeds you calories but the soul as well.

The thought of a modern day Jesus nipping down to Tesco to purchase a ready meal for one seems all wrong. The repeated accounts of him eating meals in the gospels, especially in Luke’s account is because sitting at a table together you can have true union. “Though we are many ready meals we are all one because we all share the same microwave” doesn’t have the same ring or should I say ting about it. We all for convenience use ready meals I’m sure, but they are but a distant cousin of what defines a “meal” for me. On the other hand sitting round a table whether it be communion or dining has the potential to be a foretaste of the heavenly banquet.

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