At the Fair Oaks Community Center a group of Peninsula churches rotates responsibility for providing lunch every Sunday. Last weekend was our turn. Referring to a one-pot recipe, I bought chicken drumsticks, cream of mushroom soup, rice, onions, and bell peppers. After some preparatory chopping, browning, and mixing, I threw all the ingredients into a large roasting pan.
My inexperience showed: I had multiplied all the quantities by five, but despite doubling the cooking time, the rice didn’t absorb all the water and turned out wet. My colleagues took one look at it and agreed that my dish should be held in reserve. The crowd didn’t appear to be too large.
I needn't have worried about the dish's acceptability. The diners lined up before noon and ate everything. They sat on benches, chatting; everyone knew each other, and the Sunday lunch enabled them to catch up on each other's doings. Some came back for seconds and thirds, tanking up because they didn’t know when the next meal was coming.
I said hello to a thin man who was about my age. He was suffering from high blood pressure, a leading cause of death for African-Americans. He spoke fondly of the county jail, where one got three square meals, a place to sleep, and a nurse who gave out free medication. I wished him luck and said a silent prayer for his welfare. There, but for the grace of God, go we all. © 2006 Stephen Yuen