Refrigerio and Almuerzo

Let's talk about food.

In the Salvadoran Lutheran Church, feeding people is a BIG deal. Sometimes, to be honest, it sometimes seems like the refrigerio (breakfast or snack or coffee break treats) and almuerzo (lunch) are more important than the meeting or workshop or gathering itself. Leaders get big props for a really good refrigerio. Skimpy refrigerios bring on a bit of attitude.

Feeding people is biblical. Feeding hungry people is super biblical and just. Globally, Lutherans are definitely foodies and promoters of historic, cultural, local cuisine (I see you out there eating your lutefisk and stollen). In El Salvador, the refrigerios are typically Salvadoran comfort foods.

Salvadoran Lutheran Church gatherings are typically held in the morning. Folks have to get up really early, waaaay before breakfast time, to take buses through heavy traffic in order to arrive by 8 or 8:30 am. Lutheran Churches in El Salvador are located in communities which struggle mightily with generational poverty. Feeding people is not only the polite thing to do, but the right thing to do. 

Recently, I participated in a Sunday School teacher training meeting with Lutheran Church leaders in the church's northern region. I met up with the leaders at the church offices in San Salvador at 7 am (not too early - but Saturday mornings are not very trafficky). We loaded up, headed over to pick up Obispa Abelina, and then headed north. We chatted and laughed along the way, until we pulled into a gas station, but not to get gas. We slid into a parking spot, and Abelina brought out a plastic bag of warm tamales with a random collection of little foam plates (eco note: those plates are saved, washed and reused until they fall apart).

"Does anyone have a fork?" someone asked. Nope, no forks. (Ugh, I cannot believe I went out without my spork.) 

"No problem," said Esperanza, "Bishop Medardo showed me a new way to eat tamales."

At this point, Esperanza told a cute story about "how you can eat tamales your whole life, but then the Bishop can teach you something new."  One time, they had tamales and no one had forks.  The Bishop asked Esperanza if she had a scissors. She is in charge of craft projects in her Sunday School, so she always has a scissors.  The Bishop said that it is important to carry scissors. He cut the end off of the tamal, and showed her how to eat it like a freezie pop, squeezing it up from the bottom.

How is it that we did not know about this most excellent and not messy way to eat tamales? We ate up the tamales, and each had a can of juice. Then we were on our way.

Tamales to go:  Refrigerio #1

We drove on for a few minutes, picked up a couple more passengers, drove on some more, and picked up the final group, squeezing 14 into our 10 passenger van.  

We arrived at our destination and all piled out. Hugs and greetings were shared, then we sat in a circle and the local pastoras led a brief devotion. We went around the circle and shared more greetings. Then it was time for the refrigerio: pupusas!! And coffee.


Bean pupusas, curtido and salsa:  Refrigerio #2

Twenty minutes later, we started the workshop. It was fun! We sang, we did actions, we talked about the way children learn and developmental stages.  For about 2 1/2 hours, participants were engaged in a pretty good exchange of ideas about what works and what does not work with their students. Then, it was time for lunch.

Carne asada, rice and salad:  Almuerzo
(Marinated beef:  lunch)

Then we were done for the day. We piled 20 people into the 10 passenger van. Not kidding. We were full, and we were full.

On Sunday, we went to worship in Los Héroes, and then scooted over to worship at Resurrection Lutheran Cathedral. They were celebrating their 50th anniversary as a congregation.  After worship, we had...wait for it...a refrigerio! Bishop Medardo's favorite: tamales.  And two little breads. And a cookie. And soda. And forks.

We ate it all. It was so good.

 

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