Whole Lotta Be-Heading Going On

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It’s only natural that after thinking of eating the toes (as we did in the previous post) one would immediately take a closer look at the animal and then wish to eat the head. And we are not so proud as to have never thought of the idea, even in the sacred annals of religion.

Peter Paul Rubens drew a pretty picture of exactly this dinner idea, in his ‘Feast of Herododes’ painted in the early seventeenth century. No, he was not on drugs at the time – not tripping nor having an angry moment nor suffering from a bad case of indigestion (which we know from the quotes of masters can cause all ills). There actually is a feast day where the cut-off head is the cause of a celebratory dinner.

The liturgical commemoration of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist is almost as old as that commemorating his Nativity, which is one of the oldest feasts, if not the oldest feast, introduced into both the Eastern and Western liturgies to honor a saint.

The Roman Catholic Church celebrates the feast on August 29 as the “Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist” in the ordinary form and as “The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist” in the extraordinary form, or traditional Latin Mass.

The Church of England and many other national provinces of the Anglican Communion August 29. In the Church of England, the day is referred to as celebrate the feast on “The Beheading of John the Baptist.”

The Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic churches also celebrate this feast on August 29. The day is always observed as a day of fasting, even if it falls on a Saturday or Sunday (in which case the fast is lessened, but never entirely abrogated). In some Orthodox cultures pious people will not eat food from a flat plate, use a knife, or eat food that is round in shape on this day.

In the Eastern Orthodox churches following the Julian Calendar – the Russian, MacedonianSerbian Orthodox Churches, the feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist is celebrated on September 11. The day is always observed as a day of strict fasting. and

The Armenian Apostolic Church celebrates the Decollation of St. John on Saturday of Easter Week.

The Syriac Orthodox, Indian Orthodox, and Syro-Malankara Catholic Churches commemorate the martyrdom on January 7.

This brings to mind some potential difficulties for the preparer of such a meal, even though some of the days are fasting days. I mean, you want to have a real sense of the occasion, no? For the break-fast perhaps? And since I’m always the cook, I’m thinking ahead.

What if the thing to be be-headed is two-faced? How does one deal with that??? (And you and I both know there’s always a fair amount of two-facedness going around!)

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That would be bad enough. What side to serve upwards, etc etc. But things can get worse. What would one do with this guy? He’s got an extra head in a pretty strange place, or at least so it seems to me.

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Still, it could be worse. I really would have no idea where to start with this guy. Actually I think I’d run away, no matter how delicious he claimed to be (mmm those little crab-leg-like things – almost irresistible!)

Bael

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