You’ve probably heard about the “Freshman 15,” the weight-gain phenomenon for college freshman. I mean, midnight orders of Domino’s Pizzas on meal cards, 2:00am study breaks with Oreos from the dorm snack bar, post-fellowship runs to IHOP, and all-you-can-eat dinners in the dorm dining hall eventually do you in. You start college one day, step on a scale months later, and realize that it was all true. The “Freshman 15” is not a myth. And seminary has an equivalent as I found out years later. I started seminary one day, stepped on a scale months and countless Refectory meals later, and found that the “junior 15” had almost caught up to me.
One day as I was sitting in the Refectory reflecting on this reality, I noticed just how much food I’d eaten. I still had a pretty big appetite back then, but I remember thinking that even for me, the amount of food that had been on my tray was a bit too much. The bigger problem was that I still wanted to eat. That was the day I discovered that my more-than-normal eating came from “Flavor Deficiency“; my mouth still felt curious (that’s a Korean expression, by the way) because my palate wasn’t satisfied. Spicy, sour, bitter, salty, savory, sweet taste and the delicious aromas that go along with it… I was looking for that flavorful experience and hoping to find it in the next bite.
Back then, I treated my “Flavor Deficiency” with Cool Ranch Doritos. Tonight, I treated it with this from Luqma, a local Indo-Pak restaurant:
It is not beautiful in the way that a van Gogh is beautiful, but it is art. There is a balance to the smells and tastes that is particular and satisfying. There was definitely no “Flavor Deficiency” tonight.
Somewhere in there, I imagine there is something theological to be explored, like opening up the containers and seeing that it was good… and being able to eat and rest from a day of work, or tasting and seeing that God is good and what that might mean, or even wondering about appetites for other things besides food and what deficiency it feeds.
But tonight, my palate satisfied, I eat an appropriate amount, stave off attacks of the 15’s in any form, and even let my mind rest, and that… that is good.