Faith and food taboos: what can we cook?

How does converting from one religious faith to another (or none) change family relationships? What happens to individual sense of identity and belonging? And how does that affect simple choices in everyday life? 

These are questions to be explored through theatre workshops and a shared meal at Transformations in Faith: Exploring Hopes and Fears, an event in Leith during the Being Human Festival.

Which raises an interesting challenge for the World Kitchen in Leith. What should we cook for people taking part in the workshops in the Thomas Morton Hall on Thursday 24 November?

Will conversation be stimulated or appetites stifled by a menu offering choices of pork, lamb or beef. What about shellfish, eggs and dairy products? Perhaps we should play it safe and serve only vegetables? It turns out that vegetarian food is not such a safe choice for everyone: vegetables like onions and chillies also carry taboos in some faiths.

We are what we eat?

Thanks to our links with Leith-based theatre company Active Inquiry, Leith Open Space and World Kitchen in Leith (WKiL) have been invited to contribute to an intriguing event in the Being Human Festival which runs from 17-25 November.

Hope and Fear is this year’s theme of the UK’s national festival of the humanities which began in 2014 and now reaches Edinburgh. The broad aim of Being Human is to highlight how the humanities can help us better understand and tolerate each other. In our brutally divided world,  it’s hard to think of a better time to explore issues of faith and identity.

Understanding who we are, how we live and why we make the decisions we do has never before been such a global priority. It is important that we celebrate the humanities and share an understanding of what research in these areas can provide. Professor Nick Stern

Food, one of humanity’s most fundamental needs, provides a powerful symbol of complex issues. For many of us, food expresses who we are and how we to live (through choice or circumstance). So, perhaps not surprisingly, food crops up frequently in this year’s programme.

And it is why we are now working with Active Inquiry and Dr Hephzibah Israel, Lecturer in Translation Studies at Edinburgh University. Together we are preparing a creatively innovative (is that another way of saying challenging!) approach to exploring complex human experiences.

Transformations in faith: Exploring hopes and fears will use interactive theatre workshops to tease out some of the personal issues involved in converting from one faith to another – or none.  At the end of the evening WKiL will serve a meal. If we get the menu right, we hope to enhance understanding of individual experiences and dilemmas. And at the same, time serve and share a range of dishes offering something for everyone to enjoy!

People from all faiths and none are welcome.  If you are interested in taking part there is still time – though only just – to register before 10 November. For more information contact Hephzibah Israel



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