Berry on food as sacrament

If I ever talk of daily food as a sacrament — a visible sign of grace — there are those who raise their eyebrows in disbelief: parents of young children as they wipe up the pureed banana slops of the kitchen floor; or the one who struggles with an eating disorder and for whom food is…

Whitehead on cooking

“Cooking is one of those arts which most require to be done by persons of a religious nature.” Alfred North Whitehead, from Dialogues of Alfred North Whitehead, ed. Lucien Price (Boston: Little, Brown, 1954), 250.

The Devil in the kitchen

A couple of weeks back I noted the connection between food and sin in religious art of the late Middle Ages — clearly the business of eating was riddled with spiritual pitfalls. It’s hardly surprising, then, to see the devil commonly cast as a cook. This 13th century mosaic set in the grand dome of…

Since Eve ate apples

“All human history attests That happiness for man — The hungry sinner — Since Eve ate apples, Much depends on dinner!” Lord Byron Don Juan (1823) The depiction of food in art is telling. In travels to Europe, I’ve been taken by the prevalence of food in great artworks of religious history. Clearly, it’s more…

Apple dumplings and a pure mind

“Coleridge holds that a man cannot have a pure mind who refuses apple dumplings. I am not certain but he is right.” (Charles Lamb, Essays of Elia, 1823) Englishman Charles Lamb was an essayist and poet of the early 19th century. His friend and fellow poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge was also a philosopher and theologian and…

Raymond Tallis on hunger

“The complex history of humanity and of our individual lives is most essentially the history of our hungers, and our endeavours to satisfy them. Our accidental and accident-prone lives begin not with a cry of joy, or surprise at our existence, but of need. From our first breath to our last we are enclosed in…

Cooking as a Spiritual Practice

It’s an old school exercise book, “190 ruled pages” it says on the front, with “nine-millimeter spacing.” The cover is tattered from age, a faded postbox red bound along its edge with a strip of woven tape. At the cover’s center is a box for the owner to insert name and subject. In hand-printed uppercase…

Feast•Pray•Love 2018

Next week, here in my home city of Melbourne, is the opening of Feast•Pray•Love, an annual art prize and exhibition hosted by the church I serve as pastor. It’s an exhibition that invites artists to explore the deeper meanings evident in the sharing of food. This year’s theme is ‘a place at the table’ and has attracted…

Feast•Pray•Love

This week is the final week of the 2017 Feast•Pray•Love art prize and exhibition hosted by the Collins Street Baptist Church. It’s an exhibition that invites artists to explore the deeper meanings evident in our life at the table. Now in its fifth year, the exhibition is one I feel especially connected to, not only because it arises out of my…

M.F.K. Fisher on bread & betrayal

“There is a communion of more than our bodies when bread is broken and wine drunk. It’s like religion. If you have a glass of water and a crust of bread with someone and you really share it, it is much more than just bread and water. I really believe that. Breaking bread is a…

Muto on piecrust & living

“Is it possible that there could be an analogy between spiritual living and making piecrust? At times it comes out flaky and baked to perfection; at other times it is too tough, too loaded with shortening to digest, or simply too overcooked. ‘Don’t try too hard to make it happen,’ Mother reminded me. Learn to…

Gastronomy and Spirituality

I made a small contribution to the latest issue of TARGET, the journal of TEARAustralia. It’s an issue dedicated to food as an expression of faith, culture and hospitality. There are some terrific articles on the links between food, poverty and justice, an interview with Kate Bracks, Australia’s MasterChef of 2011, and some wonderful food stories…

Feast•Pray•Love Art Exhibition

Next week, here in my home city of Melbourne, is the opening of the annual art prize and exhibition Feast•Pray•Love, initiated and hosted by the church I serve as pastor. It’s an exhibition that invites artists to explore the deeper meanings evident in the sharing of food. The exhibition, now in its third year, is one I…

Eating, Tables and Deeper Things

This blog is mostly about food. As the subtitle says, it’s about ‘the food we eat and the tables we share.’ It’s recipes, reflections and quotes, suggestions for reading and good places to eat. Underneath it all is a deep sense that the business of eating is about far more than good taste. I am…

Cooking and Writing

Cooking and writing. They’re the two activities I gravitate to if time is spare; the two things, frankly, I would rather do than most anything else. Yet they are different, so counter in process and reward. The fact is, I can’t do both at the same time and therein lies the distinctive magic of each….

Gardening with God

It’s Spring — the time of year my beloved replants her vegetable garden. I watch her come alive as she digs, mixes, composts, plants and waters. Our garden is small by all comparisons. A city balcony is not the place for breadth, but she persists and with the most wonderful results. I remember, some years back, reading…

Eucharist: Slow Food

“When we come to the Table in Communion we are called to take time to be together. The Eucharist ought not to have an express lane. It takes time: time to serve the elements of The Meal, time to stand in line, time to think and pray, time to prepare to eat together, and time to…

Breadmaking and prayer

I am not a breadmaker. Though I’ve certainly made my share of yeasty goods, it’s never been a habit. And let’s be honest, habit is essential to the craft. I am, however, inspired by those who embrace the disciplines of breadmaking as part of their daily practice. It’s just shy of twenty years ago that…

Muto on gratitude

‘To be a taker of food or any other commodity without appreciation diminishes our humanity. The height of selfishness corresponds to the avaricious depths of assuming that we are the reason the giver exits. Mother’s table is for me; all the thanks she needs is for me to eat my fill of what is on…

Paying attention: vinaigrettes, onions, etc.

To cook is to engage with small things. It has to do with paying attention to the detail. However grand the result might be (or not be, for that matter), a recipe is an accumulation of small steps. As any good cook will attest, the quality of the end product is a direct consequence of one’s attention to…