The Lost Art of Crash Grazing

July 10, 2018 by

bowls of fruit and nutsPhoto by Norann Voll

A few years ago, in a fit of stupidity or hunger or both, we stopped by a friend’s house without warning.

These are good friends, okay, the kind you can call and ask for babysitters at short notice, the kind who turn up with good wine and food for the barbecue and just kind of take over your kitchen and overflow onto the porch. We know them well.

But we’d never gone this far.

It had been a long, coldish day out somewhere and we were driving past their house when one of the sons said he was starving and shouldn’t we stop at so-and-sos place because they always fed him whenever he turned up. I said no way, it was too late (almost 9:30 pm!) and besides, we’d impose. I was firmly overruled and in we went, me apologizing (always my default introduction) despite the hugs and strange lack of bewildered looks.

We crashed like family.

We were fed and warmed and cared for like family.

And we were told, several times, how wonderful it was that we had just turned up.

As we were saying goodnight, one of the sons thanked our gracious hosts with a hug and an off-handed “thanks for letting us crash graze.”

What’s crash grazing, I asked later in the car, a new word I need to know?

It’s when you just turn up at someone’s place and eat all their food and they don’t mind, I was told.

Ever since this incident, I have thought about turning up at someone’s place and eating all their food and them not minding. I think about the few times this has happened to me and I really did mind (at least initially) because it seriously didn’t seem convenient.

Don’t get me wrong, I love feeding people, but if I’m honest, I love feeding people on my own terms.

I like the fridge full of things I think they will like, i.e. no road kill. I want the kitchen looking at least nominally clean (especially if I think they’re the kind of people that will care). I want the food to turn out at least somewhat presentable and enough time to make it that way.

Sharing food is not so much about presentation, but about how the guests feel the moment they walk in the door.

Experiencing a serious crash grazing moment has changed all that, because it’s made me see that sharing food is so much more than a presentation. It’s a gift of love. It’s not about how things look or appear the moment the guests walk in the door, but exactly about how they feel. It’s about the love that surrounds them, not the swept floor or perfectly stacked dishes. What’s more, an unplanned event around food lends a refreshing spontaneity to something that might otherwise be stale or formal.

Let’s revive this art, let’s give it new meaning. Let’s open our doors and our hearts and our homes. Let’s give and receive and make intense messes along with treasured memories. Let’s create the most holy places in the most unlikely spaces for good things to happen – good things like truth-telling and healing and hope and those singular gifts which seem to give themselves around the table.

To keep up with Norann and her thoughts on motherhood, discipleship, and great recipes, follow her on Twitter at @NorannV. Comments

About the author

Norann Voll portrait

Norann Voll

Norann Voll lived in New York’s Hudson Valley until moving to the Danthonia Bruderhof in New South Wales, Australia in 2002...

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  • This was a sweet story, and a great reminder of what is truly important! And I love the expression Crash Grazing :)

    tarina brooks