|Friday, April 19, 2019
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Over the past couple of months I have been having intensive Spanish conversation lessons.

It is many years since I last learned a language (not counting New Testament Greek, which is a rather different challenge) and I guess I had forgotten just how personal an experience that can be. For example, in order to learn the right words and grammar, I have talked to my excellent tutor about every aspect of my daily routine, not to mention my likes and dislikes, family history and so on. If I have been slightly economical with the truth, that is because I say what I can rather than perhaps what I should.

In the language learning process I have also learned a great deal about Canarian life in particular and Spanish culture more generally. And one key difference from life back home that I have been very happy to experience for myself is the culture of going out with friends for coffee, drinks or main meals whenever possible rather than eating at home. And why not, when you can depend on the weather being good and the surroundings convivial. No surprise then that non-Spanish communities have embraced this particular tradition with enthusiasm.

Most churches are also very keen on eating together. I used to belong to a large evangelical church in central Oxford, where a slightly cynical friend of mine described their social programme as “the three Fs: -ood, -un and -ellowship”. Sharing a meal together is the perfect way to relax with friends, and to make new ones.

That said, when I worked in international development, some of my most testing moments involved sharing food. You never want to offend your hosts of course, so you gratefully accept whatever you are offered. I won’t ever forget an evening in Burkina Faso when I was invited to milk a goat and drink the still steaming milk that it gave me; or the community meal in rural Brazil that we ate with our fingers. If you’ve never peeled and eaten a mango with just your hands, it’s not as easy as you might think, especially when surrounded by a large number of gleeful onlookers. And the outcome was not always good. Visiting Rwanda a few years after the genocide I was treated to sorgum beer. When later I was shown how it was made I knew I would suffer for it. And indeed I still do.

That, though, is a far cry from Puerto, and from All Saints, where we are keen to welcome visitors to events involving excellent food and drink. Why not come along to our summer barbecue on Saturday 25 August at 1.30 pm where for just €8 you will enjoy some really good homemade food and the opportunity to catch up with friends in the parsonage garden. I look forward to seeing you there.