loren Eric Swanson: Salivation

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


On Saturday John Lamb, Rich Lotterhos and I cooked lunch at First Presbyterian Church's Lamb's Lunch--a Saturday lunch for the homeless population of Boulder. Drawing from the Elvis Cookbook (recipes for 70...or Elvis twice) we put together "Graceland Spaghetti"--sauteed peppers, garlic and onions, italian sausage, meatballs, blended together in a marinara sauce with diced tomatoes. Working together w/ 20 other big-hearted people who created a fabulous chopped salad.

The best part of Lambs Lunch is having lunch with the 80 or so folks who crowd around the tables. I had lunch with George and Dave. Dave has worked his whole life as a painter but is now experiencing vertigo, which has left him unemployed and staying at the shelter. This was the third time in George's life that he was homeless...gambling is what put him on the streets this time around. People need relationships...we need relationships as much as we need food. What many are surprised by is that 30-40% of the folks are women...some young, some have seen their years. There are mentally ill who sit by themselves on the fringes talking to themselves. Some folks are addicts and some have fallen on hard times. Many of them have full-time jobs but cannot make ends meet in today's economy.

When we cook, we want to do our best--life is hard enough on the streets and perhaps an extraordinary meal and good conversation lightens the burden. I think of the transforming power of a good meal in the movie "Babette's Feast." Food can be a work of art...a labor of love. One middle age woman commented, "I can tell you put a lot of love into the spaghetti." One man joked, "We thought this spaghetti came directly from Italy." Another said, "This is the best spaghetti I have ever tasted."

We are cooking every month for the next year. Next month we are thinking about Jambalaya. Could be good. If you'd like a pdf copy of the Elvis Cookbook drop me a line at eric@tangogroup.com

One more thing--one of the highlights was John's interaction with a Navaho Indian over lunch. John worked on a reservation in college and has basic language skills. I've enclosed a video of their interaction in Navaho.


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