Where prayers and food preparation meet

Before we get going with what I'm sure will be a heavy duty week in GetReligion post (and yes, I have a couple of posts I'm writing right now on coverage of religious freedom issues) I had to share something from NPR's Weekend Edition on Saturday. An editor sent it along with the note that it was "beyond parody." And I had to laugh because when I'd come across the piece, I was simply pleased with the inclusion of the last question. This may indicate some kind of Stockholm Syndrome on my part.

In any case, the piece in question is a lovely interview about grilling. Host Scott Simon asks the great Alton Brown a few questions. Here's how it begins:

May 26, 2012 - SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This Memorial Day weekend, many Americans will fire up a grill to cook dogs or burgers, tuna, zucchini or tofu. That's our focus as we begin the occasional WEEKEND EDITION series all about seasonal food and drink called Taste of Summer. Alton Brown joins us now, the food historian and scientist. He's best known for his award-winning Food Network show "Good Eats" and for hosting "Iron Chef America." He's currently one of the celebrity chef mentors on the reality competition "Food Network Star."

Alton Brown joins us from the studios of Georgia Public Broadcasting in Atlanta. Thanks so much for being with us.

ALTON BROWN: I'm glad to be here, especially when we're talking about my favorite cooking subject of all time.

SIMON: Grilling.

BROWN: Absolutely. I grill, therefore I am.

We then get questions and answers about the difference between grilling and barbecuing, what happens when food hits the flame, the three kinds of heat transfer, how to avoid burning food items, the importance of a clean grill, why meat should be dry when it hits the grill, things to remember about grilling vegetables and fish, whether gas or charcoal grills are better, and the best fruit to grill.

And then:

SIMON: Let me ask you a question that doesn't have anything to do with grilling but has a lot to do with you, while we have the chance.

BROWN: OK.

SIMON: You say grace before a meal?

BROWN: I do. Yeah. I say grace. I'm a big believer in grace. I happen to believe in a God that made all the food and so I'm pretty grateful for that and I thank him for that. But I'm also thankful for the people that put the food on the table.

The people that grew the food, the people that got the food to me. I think that being grateful, being thankful, makes food tastes better, actually, and it's something that we should take time to do. I do.

SIMON: Might be a good thing to remember on a weekend like this, wouldn't it?

BROWN: Might be.

The editor who submitted this piece pointed out that the question just comes completely out of the blue. I also got a kick out of how the host says the question doesn't have anything at all whatsoever to do with grilling. (How does he know?) And then he says it does have a lot to do with Alton Brown.

Now, I really like Alton Brown and love his various food television shows -- from the instructional "Good Eats" to the shows where he travels (and wipes out on) his motorcycle. So I enjoyed every part of this interview, from how to grill stone fruit to the importance of saying grace.

But after the piece was sent along, it did kind of remind me how weird it can be to be a Christian -- or religious adherent who thanks a deity in prayer -- in this media environment. I mean, when I think of my family members, the people I go to church with and almost every other Christian I know at the level of having eaten with them, we all say prayers before our meals. It's something that happens before every single meal. It's completely typical to the point that if I went over to a Christian friend's house and we didn't pray before eating, it would be seriously weird.

And yet the subtext in some media environments, I can't help but notice, is that praying before a meal is the abnormal or atypical thing worth asking a question about. It's just kind of interesting, isn't it?

Image of flames touching juicy burgers via Shutterstock.

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