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Soul Food: Santeria

Kiran Deol meets up with Santeria priest Santero Charles Guelperin at his Botanica and sets out experience the often misunderstood Santeria and its close relationship to food.

Soul Food host Kiran Deol finds herself in the heart of Hollywood, where she meets up with well-respected Santeria priest Santero Charles Guelperin at his botanica. She sets out to experience one of the fastest-growing religions in the United States—the often misunderstood Santeria—and to examine its close relationship to food.

Santero Charles clues Kiran in on Santeria's food practices, explaining that 90 percent of his religion is offerings of food to the Orishas and that those who practice Santeria believe that "food is godly." Each one of the Orishas has a favorite food, and pomegranates, toasted corn mixed with palm oil, coconuts, and white yams all carry special symbolism and importance. Santero Charles invites Kiran to his home to celebrate Babalú-Ayé—which is likened to the Catholic Saint Lazarus—to help him and his godson Charlie prepare food for the offerings and participate in a cleansing ceremony alongside his godchildren, fellow Santeros, and guests. Kiran catches a rare glimpse at this secretive religion and learns that as long as there's food involved (pizza, in her case), there's the opportunity to find common ground.

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