“I recently went to New York for the first time, and honey, I’m in love with that place. I’m obsessed with its sausages.” Natalia Tena
My father and his parents were Russian. My grandmother taught me how to cook Russian dishes like pierogis and kapusta. We often served these dishes with kielbasa and other sausages. I had a number of friends from Eastern European backgrounds who enjoyed these treats. I still remember going with my mother to Sobocinski’s Meat Market in Salem, Massachusetts. I can almost smell the curing sausages and beautiful cuts of meat on display along with cheeses of all kinds. Most people in the store chattered on in Polish, Russian, etc.
I remember my father enjoying his time at the Russian Club at Derby Wharf in Salem. Every year, the club would hire a bus to take a load of men and women to New York City to scour the Eastern European stores for the finest kielbasa. It was called “The Kielbasa Bus.” I still remember him coming home with his paper wrapped kielbasas that he treated like they were made of gold.
Many of his patients would bring him gifts of homemade sausages. The art of making kielbasa was a skill enjoyed by many women from Russian and Polish backgrounds. The closest gifts of vegetables that I remember were cabbage soup and wild mushrooms.
My kids grew up eating these foods This past week, I made kielbasa k bobs on the grill that we delicious. These foods are a part of my heritage. My DNA results show that I am pure Eastern European on my dad’s side.
My father also was a believer in really good bread-the thick, hearty Russian bread that needed to be served at breakfast, lunch and dinner along with the meats. He was known to judge the quality of a restaurant by the quantity and caliber of the bread.
What I wouldn’t give to hear my father’s reaction to a Gospel Coalition post The Beauty of Complementarity Goes Beyond Gender written by Brett McCracken. Even though McCracken seems to know a bit of what constitutes a hipster, he does not appear to be widely educated in the complexities of gender and multiculturalism.
It appears that McCracken believes (and a belief is what it must be because he certainly does not have any proof) that men and women eat different things.
We had picked two restaurant options where we would have dinner, depending on what the ultrasound revealed. If our baby was a boy, we would celebrate at the local artisan sausage and beer hall. If a girl, we planned to dine at our favorite all-vegetable restaurant in downtown Los Angeles.
A few months earlier, we were in a Vancouver restaurant enjoying an amazing porchetta sandwich. The doors on this restaurant’s restrooms struck me as subversively old fashioned. Instead of plain white triangles or “all gender” notations, these two washrooms had two different labels. One said “meat” and the other said “bread.”
Is food gendered? It sounds ridiculous. But what does it mean that my wife and I immediately knew that brats and fries for dinner were more appropriate to celebrate our baby boy than kale and candied beets? What does it mean that everyone in that Vancouver restaurant knew which bathroom to use, simply by the “meat” or “bread” signs on the door? Why is it that meat and bread—or meat and vegetables—pair so well together?
It’s because they are not the same. They are different—beautifully different—in ways that enhance and bring the best out of the other. They are dignified, not diminished, by their complementary differences. They are part of a ordered cosmos of binaries—man and woman, light and dark, land and sea, salty and sweet—that bring structure, coherence, and irresistible beauty to life.
McCracken appears to judge what constitutes gender differences by what they eat in California “in his type of restaurant” these days. In his world, hip people know that a picture of bread on a door MUST mean that it is for women. However, had the *meat* and *bread* doors been present in my hometown growing up, I can well assure him that it is highly likely my dad would have walked into the *bread* restroom and my grandmother, known for her sausages, might well have walked into the *meat* restroom.
For all the discussion going on with the gospel lads when it comes to fighting racism and extolling the virtues of immigration, I find this post rater amusing because it demonstrates just how difficult it is for them to define the differences between men and women.
Men and women are more complex than bread, meat, land and sea, desert and ocean. et. Any attempt to compare humans to food, inanimate objects, land formations, whatever, will fail.The reason is simple. Men and women are created in the image of God. Sausages are not.
I am still left with my unanswered questions.
- What can a man do in a marriage that a woman cannot do?
- In the church, does the whole gender thing really boil down to “Women cannot be pastors and elders?”
- I put a few veggies on my kielbasa k bobs. Does that mean I’m bisexual?
- Doesn’t this sound like something John Piper would write?