The act of eating and preparing food is my greatest joy. Creating the dance of different flavours upon my palate is a spiritual experience. Robert Farror Capon writes in The Supper of the Lamb, “Food and cooking are among the richest subjects in the world. Every day of our lives, they preoccupy, delight and refresh us . . . Both stop us dead in our tracks with wonder. Even more, they sit us down, every evening after evening, and in the company that forms around our dinner tables, they actually create our humanity.”
The opportunity to create humanity around the table is a privilege. In my work with L’Arche Saskatoon as the Collective Kitchen coordinator, I witness people with and without disabilities sharing life together. Some of our Collective Kitchen members often have things done for them, leaving them without the opportunity to enact hospitality and serve others. The Collective Kitchen allows them to make decisions, work collaboratively and create something for themselves and their family.
A Collective Kitchen is a group of people who share their resources to cook a meal together. These resources include time, money, and abilities. We gather every six weeks to prepare supper to share with each of our families. By pooling our resources we are able to cook healthy meals in affordable and accessible ways.
The Friends of L’Arche Collective Kitchen grew from two friends who met together to make crafts on Sunday afternoons in a church basement in 2010. More and more people joined until there was a desire to do more together and the Collective Kitchen model seemed like a great fit. L’Arche is founded on the philosophy that we all have gifts to share and our Collective Kitchen allows everyone to help in their gifts areas. Some people are better at chopping, some prefer washing dishes and some prefer recipe testing! We all have a choice as to which task we work on. When we all come together to share our gifts we create a delicious feast that is taken home to be shared with our families.
We are a group of eight people with and without disabilities who have grown close over seven years of gathering. When we get together to cook it creates a common space to share of ourselves. The Collective Kitchen is food for the body and the soul.
Our cookbook, One Big Table, celebrates the sacred space we share as a group. It includes accessible recipes for people of all abilities so that laughter and joy might be spread through the act of cooking and sharing around the table. It also includes profiles of the participants, stories of the L’Arche Saskatoon community and artwork created by our workshop. All proceeds go to the L’Arche Solidarity initiative to ensure that our L’Arche sisters and brothers in financially poorer parts of the world have the resources they need to live the mission of L’Arche.