Spirituality can be a funny thing, and it can pop up in the most unexpected places.
Case in point, over the past week I’ve perfected the process of making homemade potato chips. Now I could always grab a recipe from the internet, but my situation’s a little special; namely, my stove broke down last June and the one I bought to replace it doesn’t always keep the oil at an even temperature. This added an extra level of challenge and meticulousness, and you’ll find the resulting recipe at the bottom of this post.
But what did this teach about spirituality? Quite a bit about the fundamental processes.
Measuring the exact temperatures require rigor. Timing the temperatures to put in the potato slices requires vigilance. Using the equipment properly requires knowledge. Going through with a different approach (rather than falling back on old ways) requires determination and discipline. Getting up and trying again after multiple failed attempts requires perseverance.
And lastly, the first time we put potatoes into fairly low-temperature oil (risk of getting greaselogged) requires faith.
Just as in this process, and perhaps any process involving the Scientific Method, we can see the building blocks of a sane spiritual practice: knowledge from learning about our path; rigor to practice our path and avoid the pitfalls of self-deception, fluff-bunnyism, and hyperdogmatism; determination and discipline to keep at it; perseverance to stick out the rough patches; and the faith to take the plunge for the very first time.
The kitchen is a place where much spiritual wisdom can be found, because a kitchen is effectively a laboratory. If our theology is rooted in the analogical method – “as above, so below” is hinted at in Hebrews 9 – then how does the laboratory of the kitchen not bear parallels to the laboratory of our soul?
MY HOMEMADE POTATO CHIP RECIPE:
- Peel your potato and slice 3/64 to 1/16 inch thick (I use a mandolin).
- Heat oil to 200° (I use a meat thermometer).
- Put potatoes in oil. Do not overcrowd the pan. Keep the thermometer in the oil.
- As the oil temperature rises, you’ll notice that around 240° the temperature stays more or less stable and climbs very, very slowly. This is the point where the water is cooking out of the potatoes.
- When the oil hits 260° you’ll see the temperature start climbing quickly again.
- Remove the potatoes when the temperature reaches 300°. Pull them out of the pan and drain.
If you’re doing more than one batch, you’ll need to wait awhile for the oil to cool down before repeating the process. Just make sure not to eat all the chips in the meantime!