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OK, I'm curious. I ate out last night, and, as always, I said a short grace (silently, with hands folded) over my food. The rest of the restaurant was staring at me when I opened my eyes. Now, I found this a bit unusual, because I was brought up to always, always, say thank you to the higher powers (however you want to name them) for food, and I would have thought that living, as I do, in a strongly Catholic country that it would be more the norm. And that got me to thinking....

My question to you, out there in foodland, is this: do you say grace of some sort over your food? If so, when? Would you still do it in a crowded restaurant?

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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Yes, at all meals, and yes in a restaurant. We're the only ones we know who do it and we do get some odd reactions. We try not to be confrontational or "look at us, we're PRAYING!", just quiet. It feels odd to eat without a small prayer of thanks.

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Never, except at high table in College where latin grace is a traditional ritual.

What do you do when your host says grace? Personally I just remain silent, rather than start an argument about their beliefs.

(Restauranters's grace: "Oh Lord give us power

To shift this lot in half an hour")

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Just about always. But never in a showy way.

And with eyes open...I haven't been able to close my eyes at a table since I had little kids and dogs.

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.

What do you do when your host says grace? Personally I just remain silent, rather than start an argument about their beliefs.

I only argue about other peoples beliefs on eGullet. :laugh:

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Always at home, and almost always at restaurants - not even silently if I'm with other family members or friends who would also like to join in.

I used to be a bit more timid about it, but have mostly gotten over that (though, I have to admit, I do occasionally get shy). In my experience, most other people either don't notice or don't care.

And if they do notice, why the heck should they care? It's not bothering anyone - if you don't believe in God, it doesnt matter to you, and if you do, you should understand.

Edited to add that I also don't do it in a "showy" way - no point in that either.

Edited by TheNoodleIncident (log)
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Of course. And our kids take turns doing it, the three older ones each have an 'assigned' meal (breakfast/lunch/dinner) so they don't fight over it (the irony!). I don't know what we'll do now that #4 is getting older and #5 is on the way. I guess we'll just have to eat more meals.

PastaMeshugana

"The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd."

"What's hunger got to do with anything?" - My Father

My eG Food Blog (2011)

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I've never seen this done in public over here except when I was in primary school and they did some thanksgiving celebration at the school. Oh, and in kindergarten, of course. I'm sure some religious people do it at home, but not in a restaurant.

If you care about statistics, about two thirds of the Austrian population are Roman-Catholics, at least nominally.

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I should point out that I was being as inobtrusive as possible, and that my personal beliefs are just that - personal. My choice to bless my food regardless of where I am is a personal choice that has to do with how I feel about food and prayer, and has nothing to do with a "holier than thou" attitude. I have no idea where I am with God, and I'm not saying grace to try and improve my chances in whatever comes after this life. The food just tastes better after I say the grace, and I'm sure it's psychosomatic. It doesn't stop me, though.

ETI - I'm also not blessing your food when I'm blessing mine. That would be incredibly presumptuous of me.

Edited by Panaderia Canadiense (log)

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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I never say grace at home so I wouldn't in a restaurant either. However, I don't think I have ever even seen anyone saying grace in a restaurant. Not when I grew up in the midwest or now in Philadelphia. Admittedly, I don't pay that much attention to other tables so it is possible that I have missed it. I would be interested if others have seen it/do it.

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I've no objection if another party does it, especially in a way that does not disturb other diners, for example no louder than normal conversation.

I do find it (silently) embarrasing when my host does it and expects me to join in, or a guest at a table I'm hosting.

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We did when I was growing up, but as we hit our teens it seemed to just stop. I have one acquaintance who always has a moment of silence before she starts eating at restaurants. Her eyes are closed. It is very subtle. I did not realize she was doing it until one day out at lunch; the table was engaged in spirited conversation when the food arrived and she sort of stopped for a few seconds. We only meet up in public so I have no idea what they do at home.

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In the Jewish tradition, the "grace" (Birkat Hamazon) is said after the meal. This comes from Deut. 8:10 which states "When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He gave you". One common sense interpretation of this is that you can get a hungry man to do or say anything.

We don't say it with every meal in our house. We typically say it on the Sabbath, especially when people are over for a meal.

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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We did when I was growing up, but as we hit our teens it seemed to just stop. I have one acquaintance who always has a moment of silence before she starts eating at restaurants. Her eyes are closed. It is very subtle. I did not realize she was doing it until one day out at lunch; the table was engaged in spirited conversation when the food arrived and she sort of stopped for a few seconds. We only meet up in public so I have no idea what they do at home.

Our family is kind of the same way. We only said Grace before supper. Never for breakfast or dinner (lunch). Only once that I remember when eating at a restaurant, Mom said we had to when the table next to us did. Felt strange as we were half way finished, but anything to keep Mom happy.

We don't say Grace as a family, except for when Mom is over for supper.

That's the thing about opposum inerds, they's just as tasty the next day.

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...for those who do say grace, do you stick to a standard prayer, or sort of improv something that feels appropriate for the moment?

I have a standard prayer - I give thanks to my teachers, the Buddha, my friends and family, and the cook who so generously made the food for me to eat (who normally falls under "teacher, friend, or family".)

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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I don't recall ever seeing anyone say grace at a restaurant, but even in an increasingly secular Ireland, most will still have grace before a wedding meal, for example. To be honest, I think large gatherings are the very WORST time to say grace, but it's the only arena in which I witness it.

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...for those who do say grace, do you stick to a standard prayer, or sort of improv something that feels appropriate for the moment?

I have a standard prayer - I give thanks to my teachers, the Buddha, my friends and family, and the cook who so generously made the food for me to eat (who normally falls under "teacher, friend, or family".)

I think that counts as "free form", even though you do it in a standard way. I guess what I meant by standard was a word-for-word prayer that is known by many people (for the Catholics out there, "Bless us oh Lord, and these thy gifts...." may sound familiar).

I like the free form versions better - but I tend to include a short "standard" prayer in addition too.

Edited by TheNoodleIncident (log)
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Well considering you don't get much more atheist then me without having to add militant in front of it, I don't say grace, but I have always appreciated the secondary function of prayer, small silent moments to contemplate the day or in the case of grace the meal.

I wouldn't thank any deity or supernatural force for my food, but I quite honestly like the idea of contemplating the work that went into a meal, not only that of the chef, but of the farmers, butchers and other artisans and the sacrifice of life needed for a piece of meat or fish.

Then again, the thought that other people belief I am religious in any way affronts me, so usually I do this contemplation while cooking if I am on my own.

Oh, and to be clear on the matter, I respect anyone's belief's no matter how stupid I think they are, so no disrespect to the various religions people of this forum might have. Because the same basic human rights that allow me to choose not to refute and refuse belief, give others the right to belief and there are few things I respect more than that.

"My rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite smoking cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before, after and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them."

-Winston Churchill

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Free form... and fast enough to keep the eats hot.

:D

My grandfather (also a minister) is known to interrupt particularly long-winded prayers with "Amen!" and digging in.

And - to the question: free form for our family. It's entertaining to see what the kids come up with, sometimes.

PastaMeshugana

"The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd."

"What's hunger got to do with anything?" - My Father

My eG Food Blog (2011)

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And - to the question: free form for our family. It's entertaining to see what the kids come up with, sometimes.

My son is the one that says grace during holiday meals and it's been pretty amusing, enlightening and entertaining to see how he changes what he says as he grows up.

My in-laws say grace before every meal, no matter where they are and like to join hands if we are at home; when we are out, they will silently bow their heads and hold hands under the table but don't expect everyone else to participate.

I like to stop for a second and be thankful that I have food to eat, because there are so many who don't. And that could be me one day, you never know.

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When I was a child, the grace in our house was a standard repetition..."God bless this food, which we are about to eat, Amen."

When I was small, I thought my dad was saying "God bless this food, a gerbil's treat, Amen". I kept waiting for the gerbils to appear. Sadly none ever did. :smile:

When I was a little older, I used the time that no one was looking to eat as many pickles as I could shove in at one time. I was a weird kid.

Now, a brief moment of silence over the plate, to give thanks for the food, the people who grew it and the hands that prepared it suffices. Unless my brother is there. He's a mennonite minister and it makes my elderly mother happy to have him pray aloud. I still use the time to eat all the pickles. I like to think that my mom puts the pickle dish in front of me on purpose, and that she asks him to pray for 'everyone' so I have time to eat a couple of extra ones :raz:

Don't try to win over the haters. You're not the jackass whisperer."

Scott Stratten

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I don't say grace, because I'm not religious. However, I sometimes dine with others who do. As far as I'm concerned, if my dining partners want to have a "moment of silence" grace or say it quietly to themselves, anytime anywhere, whatever the situation, I'm cool with that. If someone is hosting the meal, either at their home or a restaurant, they can do whatever they want - say it to themselves, say it for the table, whatever - your house, your rules. I'll just sit quietly till they're done, and hopefully the food will still be hot.

I gotta say, though, I find it awkward and presumptuous of a guest to say a grace for the entire table, when I'm hosting the meal in my home (or restaurant). Especially if the food's getting cold. And especially if they know we are not of their religious persuasion. My sister-in-law, a born-again Christian, did this once. Bless her heart, we thought she was trying to impress the guy she met in church and brought over for dinner. Awkward, but we let that slide. (She also didn't want the wine and glasses on the table, so we said we'd leave the bottle in the kitchen, but no way are we not having wine with the dinner!) :rolleyes:

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Just about always. But never in a showy way.

And with eyes open...I haven't been able to close my eyes at a table since I had little kids and dogs.

Truer words have never been spoken.

I never used to pray at the dinner table because I've never been religious........then I married Mrs. Catdaddy who was raised in the church. She likes to say grace and I like her so I got used to it. Then I discovered that I liked slowing things down after preparing a meal and taking a minute to be thankful for the food in front of me. Not really praying but stopping to enjoy life.

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This is a fascinating thread.

I've never said religious grace either, as I'm not religious and my family has never been - but I do also like the short moment of contemplation and consciousness..well, almost MARVELLING when you sit down at a meal and think how lucky you are and how thankful you should be.

Cheesy though it may be, my boyfriend and I have in fact developed almost a tradition, of sitting down to food, looking at it for a moment, smiling at each other, and gently fist-bumping (what Fox News might call a "terrorist fist-jab"!) before starting to eat.

This was borne out of a long-ago conversation talking about a) we're about to enjoy something delicious, and that's not something to be taken lightly, given that b) how fortunate we are to have lives where food is available, varied and abundant, when so many don't and so many of our forebears didn't, and that we should never take that value for granted. And yes, we also do it in restaurants.

That's our prayer.

Edited by rarerollingobject (log)
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