I’ve been putting thoughts to pen and paper as opposed to filling the internet with more words lately. I haven’t wrestled with why, but I have a hunch. My spiritual curiosity is growing, unexplainable things are transpiring, and all of it is leaving me in awe. I’m just not sure how to translate that into this collection of thoughts.
In the meantime, I do want to mention Margaret Feinberg’s Taste and See. I finished this quick read in three days. And I have a really short five-star review: This wrecked me.
Margaret writes from a historical perspective, noting the many references to food in the Bible. (I’d never taken time to realize this, but I’ve double checked her and she’s right.)
The book recounts her experience in a salt mine, her hunt for a St. Peter’s fish in the Sea of Galilee, her adventures of harvesting olives in Croatia, her time spent with a butcher in Texas known as the “meat apostle”, her travels to Yale to bake fresh matzo, and what she learned wandering a California fig farm. With each stop, she asked how do you read these scriptures — related to what you do to plant, procure, or process these foods — in light of what you do every day. This was an important line of context for my understanding of what Jesus might have meant when he addressed his people as salt of the earth or when he instructed Israel to sit under their own fig tree.
For as many times as I imagined Jesus just walking and talking in dusty sandals, he probably broke bread, multiplied fish, and used culinary metaphors way more. Margaret likens Jesus to a foodie! This intrigued me enough to pick up the book.
What I didn’t expect to find was a new way to approach the dinner table.
We have a beautiful dining room table. It’s dark hard wood with tall back chairs and padded leather seats. Each of the eight place settings showcases my parents’ wedding china. From the ceiling hangs a custom lighting fixture fashioned out of a 300-year old wooden cross beam from an East Tennessee log cabin. Turnbuckles fasten it to wooden square mounts with Edison bulbs draped across.
I love our dining room. But, hubs and I typically have dinner on the couch.
I cringe every time he says, “let’s eat real quick so we can clean up.” I mean, the clean up part is great, right?! But the real quick mention goes against everything Intuitive Eating has taught me. After all, mindlessly scarfing food is kind of what brought me to this point in the first place.
Margaret addresses this:
“All too often I’ve found myself at a table and discovered it as a shameful place, rather than a sacred space. If we’re honest, each of us hunger for so many things that extend beyond physical appetite. We hunger to know and to be known. We hunger for others to accept, understand, and adore us. We hunger to have someone to love and cherish with our affection.“
Am I the only one who can relate?
After finishing the book, it felt like the brunch, dinner party, and coffee date on my weekend calendar were serendipitous appointments. Approaching each table with a posture of gratitude for the food, the hands who prepared it, and the people with whom I shared it was a game changer. Staying present and regarding the table as sacred set the tone for a safe vulnerability and opened space allowing the roots of friendship to grow.
I drove to my counselor’s office with butterflies in my stomach a few weeks ago. I couldn’t wait to outline all of this along with my favorite part of the book:
A guide takes Margaret 400ft into a Utah salt mine. She noted that the salt was not white like we see on our tables because it draws in the minerals around it; the magnesium and iron create a pinkish hue speckled with brown. The guide pointed Margaret’s attention to a spot on the wall. “See this?” he said. “This is the part that chefs covet most. The brown spots bring out the highs and lows of their dishes.”
In that moment, I felt the wind knocked out of me. It was like I heard a voice say, Amanda, my salt of the earth. The blemishes of your life? Those are the best parts. That’s what I want to use.
When I say the book wrecked me, it was in the best of ways. The realization that my blemishes, my brokenness — the very same disordered eating that brought so much guilt and shame around food is now being used to bring healing and redemption to my life.
And that is such a gift.