Feast of Life, Taste of Death
The more we engage with death as part of life, and life as part of death, the better our lives, and ultimately our deaths will be. At Life. Death. Whatever., we're always developing inspiring and inspired ways of engaging with death to add to our toolkit.
Feast of Life, Taste of Death is one of our most delicious tools. It takes the form of a communal meal, where people come together to share stories over food that means something to them. It's designed to be an engaging and accessible way of engaging with the difficult emotions that come up around death by creating meaningful interactions by breaking bread together.
What happened at the first Feast of Life, Taste of Death?
The first Feast of Life, Taste of Death was hosted by Louise Winter and David Blackwell in the summerhouse of a secret garden hideaway in North London. 12 people were invited to bring along dishes that meant something to them. The entire feast was displayed on the lid of a cardboard coffin, kindly provided by our friends at Ecoffins.
We heard life-affirming stories of the food that was brought to the feast - roasted tomato soup, life-giving oranges, Caribbean takeaway, childhood jacket potatoes with beans, cheese and coleslaw, ackee and saltfish patties, pho, chocolate brownies, noodles from a takeout in LA, raspberry jam sandwiches, pizza, pickled eggs, frittata, macaroni cheese, Swedish pancakes, honey roasted sweet potatoes and so much more.
We feasted on life, tasted death, shared beautiful stories and connected with old friends and made a few new ones too.
How do I host my own Feast of Life?
All you need is a few people (between three and twelve) who are willing to come together to share stories over food that has been significant to them at some point in their lives. You could host the Feast of Life around your kitchen table at home, or you might want to hire a space such as a community hall. It can take any format, perhaps a candlelit supper or even a picnic in a park.
When we invited our guests, we sent out this message, giving them plenty of time to reflect upon food that has been important to them.
"What would you eat if you knew you were dying? Is there a dish that makes you feel alive? Is there something that reminds you of the best of life? What food have you been given to help you through the tough times?"
As soon as the feast was assembled, we asked everyone around the table to introduce themselves and the story behind the food they'd brought along.
Anything else I should know?
- Create a warm and friendly environment where people can feel safe to share their stories.
- Make sure you have enough crockery and cutlery for the number of people attending. It's a good idea to have an idea of what people will bring in advance so you can ensure you have the right equipment.
- Begin the Feast of Life by getting everyone to introduce themselves and explain the stories behind the food they have brought with them.
- Be prepared to offer support for whatever may come up. Check our website for resources for people who need extra support.
- You could provide wine or ask guests to bring a bottle but don’t get everyone intoxicated - it’s not the point and doesn't make for a safe and nurturing environment.
- Encourage everyone to bring doggy bags/ Tupperware. We were overwhelmed by the amount of food we had left over!