Remembering the man whose food and faith inspired.
We eat to survive, to fuel and strengthen our brains and organs and sinews. Food delivers the nutrients that keep us alive.
We eat for fun. When food tastes sublime, when the individuals to our left and right and across the table are funny and caring and smart, when our stomachs are not only full but ache a bit from laughter, our body tells our brain that it would like to repeat such a meal again, and again, and again.
We also eat — more rarely, perhaps — for inspiration. Maybe it’s the particular location where the meal is taking place — on the summit of a mountain, a tropical beach at sunset, or a holy site. Maybe it’s a particular person with whom we are dining — the Dalai Lama or Dolly Parton. Food and drink have, since the start of time, served as the centerpiece for human inspiration, seeding inventions and sparking revolutions.
For three decades until it closed in 2011, Harold’s Pit Bar-B-Q operated at the nexus of utility, enjoyment, and inspiration. The Abilene hole-in-the-wall was, for decades, a lunchtime staple for scores of West Texans. In a town with almost as many barbecue joints as churches, lines at Harold’s were often out the door (especially on Fridays). The meat —from the tender, slow-smoked brisket and ribs to the steaming sausages — was a religious experience. The hot water cornbread and sweet tea was Eucharist. And presiding over each lunchtime service — the minister of meat — was Harold Christian, who died on April 3 at 71.
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