Sometimes it seems that no matter where you go in the world you’ll find the tradition of offering up libations: giving a portion of food or drink (usually liquor) to those who are with us only in spirit. It is a custom that is as old as Greeks pouring out a bit of wine “for Zeus,” and as new as rappers tipping a sip of malt liquor onto the ground “for the Homies.” It is also quite varied: in South America they spill out a drink called chicha before making an offering to Pachamama, in Cuba they pour out a bit of rum por los Santos (for the Saints), while in the Philippines they still use rum, but say para sa yawa (for the devil). In Russia, of course, they use vodka.
In other words, this is a custom that has seemed to have evolved organically in almost all cultures around the world. So I guess I can’t really complain about the fact that along with Papua New Guinea, Moldavia and Uruguay, it has also arisen in the culture of my house. Or about the fact that, in my house, the libation always seems to be noodles.
I suppose that if I were to really think about it I shouldn’t find that to to be too surprising; after all, a libation is supposed be about offering the best of what you have. And, in my house, as far as Clementine is concerned, there is nothing better than a nice undercooked bowl of noodles. Her preferred method of offering this libation is to put the noodles in a bowl that is way too small and then add way too much parmesan, so that when the dish is eaten both noodles and parmesan end up littering the floor all around her, creating a sort of food outline on the ground. In fact, there is usually so much food on the floor that it is as if Clementine were not simply making an offering to the memory of those who have gone before her, but rather as if she were a chief priestess in the cult of Chef Boyardee. (I wouldn’t be surprised to catch her actually tipping the bowl at the beginning of the meal and murmuring “to Chef Boy” as the parmesan spilled.)
Which would be fine, except for the fact that her “altar” is located suspiciously close to my kitchen floor. Actually, most people would probably say that her altar is my kitchen floor. Personally, I would like to think that Chef Boy, like so many deities before him, would prefer his services to be held outside, where he can gaze down (or, in the Filipino tradition, gaze up) and see his loot. But then again, what do I really know about the cult of noodle worship?
Sure, I know that they prefer to be called Pastafarians. I know that they precede every meal with a devout “ra-men.” And I know that their deity is technically known as the Flying Spaghetti Monster. But as far as the offering up of pasta libations? On this, I must admit, I am completely in the dark.
But then again, maybe we all are; maybe Clementine is spearheading a new era in Pastafarianism. Maybe, like Martin Luther nailing his manifesto to the church door, Clementine is tipping her over-filled bowl out onto the kitchen floor in defiance of the current Pastafarian doctrine of “every noodle is sacred.” Yeah, and when she “accidentally” drops her bowl (again), maybe this is her Moses-like moment of destruction through righteous anger. Or something like that.
Who can say? I probably should just be grateful that it is still food that she uses in her sacrificial offerings, and not the more traditional liquor. Of course, at least with vodka, there’s some sort of cleaning involved.