Recipes and Rituals

Rituals, Traditions, Ceremonies, Observences, Customs and exercises usually have a strong connection to food. Some exercise for certain foods, but I digress.

Spencer and I recently attended a writing workshop focused on rituals and here’s my experience.

The workshop was entitled:

For Love, Poetry and for Eternal Life
Understanding and considering rituals in your life through poems
Workshop #5 at the Stanley Kunitz boyhood homejohngaumond

This annual series is coordinated by Massachusetts-based visual artist and writer Judith Ferrara and hosted by Carol Stockmal, the owner and curator of The Stanley Kunitz Boyhood Home.  This workshop was facilitated by longtime teacher, poet and Kunitz docent John Gaumond.

Gaumond conducted all of his passions in a triumphant concert of advancement. He defined ritual as a word, developed ritualistic practices of learning and established repetitive movements of discovery (or practices) for this student. His careful and deliberate guidance moved ahead the strengths and confidence of each writer through exercises that opened our minds in ways that will not close.

He told us that our minds would forever change and implanted words that will always mean very specific feelings and emotions. Words that now call up specific memories. Rituals for writing were established and reformed. One of the exercises was to describe our ‘writing ritual’ using this list:

Words to think about when you write a ritual:

    • purpose
    • pattern (order of action)
    • progression
    • control
    • verbalization
    • objects
    • location or setting
    • garments

Each participant had a considerable awakening during the exercise. A few of us found that we use time constraints as a block rather than encouragement. One became aware that she cannot write without sturdy sneakers on her feet. Another that a Black Uniball Micro must be in hand, no other implement will do. For the established and award winning poet, all chores related to her family must be complete before productive writing can commence.  Today, I set a 90 minute timer and worked within the time to complete this post. In retrospect, limited-time will be my companion rather than a hindrance.

chocolate fudge brownies

Purpose, order of action/progression, control: “I baked!” Aprons are also essential for enjoying events with loved-ones. Quite often, cooking or baking some special type of food item is involved and tied to a rite, celebration or observance of an anniversary, birthday or life time accomplishment. Our heavenly manna ranges from my Mom’s Toll House Chocolate Chip cookies that no one can replicate, to your mother’s mac-n-cheese, aunt’s turkey stuffing, Nonna’s meatballs or Aunt Carol’s double chocolate fudge frosted moist and delicious brownies. Yes, I started and ended the list with my two favorite desserts. I did it. I have no apologies, either.

No matter the mix, method or menu, certain events are not the same without a specific set of people, table setting and menu. Workshops at the Stanley Kunitz House wouldn’t be the same without Aunt Carol’s brownies. They have consistently received rave reviews and part of their special-ness is that she makes the sugar free variety especially for me. One other part of the special-ness is that most quickly reach for another when they hear the key phrase “sugar-free.” The main part is the love that she puts into everything she does.

We celebrate rituals daily, weekly, monthly and every year with others and with food. Rituals are our actions and live-on in our expressions of our culture, ethnicity, family tradition and most importantly in our relationships. Rituals bring us – like food – a sense of happiness, health and security.

What are your food or recipe rituals? Share with a comment and Enjoy!

feature photo borrowed from


2 thoughts on “Recipes and Rituals

  1. mina says:

    Hi Guys,

    This was very interesting and something I never thought about before. I find the most production when I ritualize depression and anxiety. If I can make myself feel overtired, alienated, sad and angry, words come quickly and momentum is easy to find. When I’m joyful I don’t have nearly the energy (patience?) or ambition for words. I would love the burden of a certain pen or certain sneakers to be my go-to. What to do? How can I get a healthier ritual?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s