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The Crafting Of Sacred Food I

Cooking For Spirits In Afro Latin Traditions

By Carolina Gonzalez

While other paths require very little amounts of food (or none) when making offerings, Afro Latin traditions go completely overboard when it comes to feeding Deities, Spirits, and the incredibly wide range of beings that fill our altars. Usually, this is managed by a whole community so each time a Saint/Orisha/Spirit day comes, the altar rooms become loaded with plate after plate of delicacies, along with the foods that each tradition assigns to the specific Spirit.

Cooking for a Spirit is not just cooking. The kitchen and the makers of the food must be completely clean while working, and it is required to bath and purify yourself and wear clean clothes. No other foods are prepared while doing that, and the kitchen must be constantly pristine, so while one (or more) practitioner cooks, the others wash and dry the implements. While everything is done, prayers or songs in honour of the Spirit that is being celebrated that day are repeated to bless the food. The altar and the tables where the food will be set must be prepared with the utmost care, and every plate, glass and tray are washed right before serving the food, no matter that they are already clean. After being served, more prayers are said while the Spirits feast, and usually drumming and chanting is performed in their honour.

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