Everyone who creates or serves food or drink as well as those who offer and attend to lodging are members of the hospitality industry, an industry which exists in every country around the world.
During such trying times as these, when civil violence and unimaginable natural disasters such as the Japanese earthquake occur, it is important to remember why the name of our industry is linked to the word ”hospital” and so to the term of “hospitality”.
During the dark days of the European Crusades, while knights battered at the walls of eastern cities, the common person sought a more peaceful path to the Divine by traveling long distances on foot to other sacred sites of pilgrimages. Whether these travelers sought forgiveness for a great sin or a cure for some dreaded disease, they struggled along unprotected dusty country trails.
Situated along the pilgrims’ road were safe shelters directed by more peaceful monastic orders. Because the official language of the Christian church at this time was Latin, these calm centers were called “hospices” an ancient Roman term meaning “a place to host a guest or stranger”.
The travelers, if fortunate enough to reach these centers, often arrived ill or injured by the thieves who attacked the helpless pilgrims along the route. As a result, some pilgrims were too sick to continue and needed extended care and attention by the monks and sisters there. It is from that extended effort that the word “hospital” and finally “hospitality” arise.
This tradition of offering insightful and caring shelter to guests, even if they are a total stranger, is not, however, just a Christian concept. Throughout the world, the act of offering food and lodging to those far from home or in need of aid is a sacred obligation.
Today, many centuries later, our industry carries this ancient heritage forward every day whether we are greeting an airport delayed guest or catching with great concern the latest so sad news from Japan. Our activities, though often simple, can lighten the burden of the day for that weary person who has arrived at our door and seeks shelter, safety and an understanding smile.
Guest by guest, what we do matters more then we might know. Our industry is about far more than offering mere meals, beautiful beds or rapid reservations. It is the heart and art of caring.
Your Culinary World copyright Ana Kinkaid/Peter Schlagel 2011