Cooking Up Peace

Six Christian women from an evangelical church in Texas invited six Jewish women from a local synagogue and six Muslim women from a local mosque to form a cooking club.

When the event was hosted in the home of a Christian, the evangelical women wore "cowgirl" boots and folded bandanas for napkins. Together the multi-faith women cooked a traditional Texas meal.

When a Jewish woman hosted the cooking club, she taught about historic Jewish festivals and the significance of food. "Traditional foods bring back memories of significant events in our history," she said. She described the festivities surrounding the story of Esther and Haman; together the women worked the dough used in the filled "Haman cookies" prepared for the festival. "The Muslim women especially loved it when we filled the cookies with Nutella!" said the Jewish host.

When the communal dinner was prepared in a Muslim home, both Christian and Jewish women were a bit envious of the two separate kitchens -- one used when the women were cooking together, and then a "dirty kitchen" used to prepare food "behind the scenes."

One woman said her favorite part of the cooking club was when the Muslim women felt the freedom to remove their headscarves and coat-like outer garments. "They rarely get to ‘dress up’ outside their homes," said one of the Christian women. "So when they came to our homes and our husbands were gone, they took off their 'coverings' and let their beauty show."

But it wasn't just the Muslim women who had to be uncovered. The unifying beauty of each of these women of faith had been hidden behind coverings of misunderstanding and fear. As they unwound layer after layer they discovered that they were all … just … women.

"What do you have in your purse?" Thus began the "purse game," and the laughter.

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Sojourners Magazine February 2011
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