Sunday, December 18, 2005

"PLEASE BLESS THIS FOOD": The Missionary-Fettucine Scandal

"Please bless this food" is perhaps the most-used phrase in all of Mormondom. Mormons have a lot of opportunities to publicly pray, and we like to make sure that those public gatherings involve food. As a result, "please bless this food" is almost a knee-jerk, Pavlovian phrase, often said without much meaning, like the "please bless this food that it will make us healthy" before you eat the double mint fudge oreo ice cream for Family Home Evening dessert. It's such a safe phrase, and usually not that necessary.

Or so the missionary thought, as he prayed over his dinner at our home last evening... little did he know just how necessary that prayer would be.


We were trying to put dinner together in a hurry. Chicken alfredo over fettucine. I whipped up the alfredo sauce and the fettucine was boiling on the stove. I was hurriedly trying to clean the kitchen at the same time, so I had just finished cleaning out the sink with lemon scented 409 cleaner.

As the noodles finished boiling, I took them over to the sink to drain. The steam burned my hand, and in a moment of indiscretion, all of the noodles spilled into the sink... and then slipped from the sink right into the garbage disposal. That garbage disposal, it turns out, has a significant capacity to retain noodles.

I was very, very upset. I yelled, and nearly cursed, and yelled to Catherine "THE NOODLES FELL INTO THE SINK, INTO THE GARBAGE DISPOSAL!!! OH NO!!!" We didn't have any other fettucine noodles. We had some spaghetti noodles; but alfredo over spaghetti noodles? Blasphemy. Besides, it was now about 5 minutes before the missionaries were supposed to arrive. But we had no choice.

I don't exactly know what I was thinking. I just reacted. I reached my hands into the garbage disposal and fished out the noodles, gobs and gobs of them. Enough for about 4 servings. And I dumped them back into the pot. I burned my hands. Then I realized I needed the pot to cook the spaghetti noodles, so I grabbed a big glass bowl and dumped the noodles in the bowl. Later that night, I would learn from Catherine that that particular type of "glass bowl" is in fact a "serving bowl"... [insert ominous music here]

Then I put the spaghetti noodles on the oven to cook, and the missionaries knocked on the door. We were very far behind in dinner preparation. No appetizers. Somehow, I managed to throw away the rolls my wife had cooked, in my frantic effort to... I dont know, clean the kitchen? I grabbed some frozen brocolli and dumped it into a pot to steam, and the missionaries sat down to eat.

It took about 15 more minutes for the spaghetti noodles to finish, and everyone was anxious to eat. Catherine came into the kitchen and grabbed the bowl of fettucine. I went wide-eyed as she said, "can I put these on the table for the missionaries?" "Sure... if you WANT to..." I responded. I was totally confused. STUNNED. Was she REALLY going to feed those garbage disposal noodles to the missionaries??? I didn't know what to think. But I trusted her judgment. I thought, "well, I just must be taking this 'noodles-in-the-garbage-disposal' thing too seriously!!"... I watched in half-shock as she let the missionaries scoop the noodles onto their plates... and then scoop the alfredo sauce onto their noodles. As I watched them do so, I thought, "I don't care if Catherine thinks it's okay, I am definitely NOT going to eat those noodles. I'll eat the spaghetti noodles. This is CRAZY." But I didnt say anything.

I think I was in shock.

And then the noodles came around to Catherine, and she loaded them onto her plate. I felt guilty; she would sacrifice herself, and eat the noodles, and here I sat, willing only to eat the clean spaghetti noodles? What kind of husband was I? In a moment of guilt and introspection, I ladled some fettucine onto my plate.

The new Elder offered the prayer. I almost laughed (or gagged?) when he said, "Please bless this food that it may make us healthy and please bless the hands that prepared it..."

After the prayer, the missionaries and Catherine started eating. I couldn't chew the noodles. I just swallowed. All of them. I advised the missionaries to put as much salt and pepper on the noodles as possible... you know, to offset any offensive flavors. Like the flavor of lemon-scented 409. Which they may have mistook for "lemon pepper".

The missionaries had second helpings. I waited for all of the fettucine to be gone before I ventured to eat some of the spaghetti noodles.

And they left.

And as soon as the door closed, I turned to Catherine and said, "I CANT BELIEVE YOU LET THEM EAT THE NOODLES THAT WENT INTO THE GARBAGE DISPOSAL!"

In less than a second, I realized that I had made a terrible, terrible mistake. Catherine's mouth fell open and a look of PURE HORROR passed over her face as she yelled, "WHAT?!!!! THEY WERE IN A SERVING BOWL!!! WHAT DO YOU MEAN THOSE WERE IN THE GARBAGE DISPOSAL?!?!?! WHY WERE THEY IN A SERVING BOWL?! I THOUGHT THOSE NOODLES WERE OKAY?!!!! WHY DID YOU PUT THEM INTO A NICE SERVING BOWL?!"

Who knew there was a difference between "bowl" and "serving bowl"?

[For those of you who ever planned on having dinner at our home, we understand. WE don't even want to have dinner at our home anymore.]


At 12/18/2005 08:00:00 PM,

As soon as I stop laughing, I'll make a comment... it may take a few days, however.

At 12/18/2005 11:35:00 PM,

sheldon, you are a character...but the real question is: were you nourished and strengthend by the 409 noodles? (the other real question is, who is the yahoo who came up with that phrase "nourish and strengthen"?

AND FURTHERMORE, why do we even bless the food anyways? Does it ever really need blessing? I mean, i've forgotton to bless it sometimes and I didn't die from it and it tasted exactly the same. I agree that praying before a meal is a good time to pray in general, but do we really need to keep up this whole blessing the food bit?

Now you've done it, you've got me ranting Mr. should be ashamed! Or maybe I should, oh well.

At 12/19/2005 08:33:00 AM,

I think it's appropriate to thank God for the food.

But the "blessing" thing often seems rather silly.

It actually was something of a controversy at Church headquarters. Church employees developed crazy theories/doctrines around "food blessings". For example, the cafeteria at Church headquarters "blesses" the food as it comes off the delivery trucks each mornings. So Church employees argue about whether or not an additional blessing is needed.

One time, a co-worker was asked to start a business meeting with a prayer. The business meeting included lunch, catered by the cafeteria. He asked the food to be blessed.

When he was done, the first order of business of his boss (head of the department) was to BERATE him PUBLICLY for blessing ALREADY BLESSED FOOD. He angrily explained that the Lord did NOT want people to bless food that had already been "successfully" blessed on the Church loading dock.


At 1/01/2006 08:33:00 AM,

Missionaries are young and strong. They will probably be just fine.

At 1/02/2006 12:15:00 PM,

Blessing the food is about us acknowledging God's goodness, not about ensuring its safety. To ensure its safety, we keep it out of poison infested garbage disposals and the like. :-) 

Posted by LisaB

At 1/04/2006 09:01:00 AM,

When serving as a missionary in Brazil, I learned the value of blessing food not only to thank God for it, but to ask him to help me not get worms from it. Then again, I got worms three times.

At 1/15/2006 11:36:00 PM,

I had members on my mission who took us to a busy italian restaraunt. As soon as we got our food the member said, "I'll bless it." He prayed in the middle of that busy restaraunt, and he prayed for a long time. I like praying but I'll admit I felt really awkward. I think we need to know that there's a time and a place, and at some places it's not appropriate to pray vocally.




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