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Something Sacred? God in the Things We Eat, Especially Citrus

Aubrey Allison

22 LemonSlicesIII_76x34 Lee Price paints women in private spaces—beds, bathrooms—usually binge eating. A row of ice cream pints along the edge of the bathtub. McDonald’s bags full of fries and burgers spilled on the sheets.

In an interview with The Other Journal, Price says her art deals with “how we give objects of obsession/compulsion (in this case, food) qualities that we should be giving to a higher source (e.g., God or our inner voice). We see food as sacred.”

But in many of her recent paintings, food no longer holds control over the women. They sleep in beds with a serving of sliced peaches beside them. They hold a cup of tea in the bath. In the painting above, “Lemon Slices III,” the subject isn’t even eating. It’s simply the citrus itself in which this woman may be looking for something sacred.

And there is something sacred about citrus.

I moved to Seattle in December and hardly saw the sun. I felt fragile and transient and wanted some kind of comfort, something tangible, a sharp and beautiful detail to emerge from my cloudy anxiety. I called my mom and she told me to go to church, to pray and be in God’s presence. I went to a bakery instead.

I bought myself a “winter fruit tart,” made with slices of sharp citrus that cut through the diffused gray. It was drizzling and I sat in my car, parked on an unfamiliar residential street. The crust crumbled when I bit into the thing.

It was all glazed oranges and grapefruit slices on a puddle of cream. I thought of the way the Eucharist is “fruit of the vine and work of human hands,” and I thought that these bakers working with seasonal fruit were blessed stewards of creation. I thought God must have orchestrated that pastry to comfort me in that moment.

The next day was Sunday, and I went to church to pray and be in God’s presence. I received the Eucharist. The wine tasted sharp and I savored it.