The taste of sadness

The week after dad’s death, two gifts arrived on my doorstep: a foil covered tray of chicken enchiladas and a ceramic pot of beef Bourguignon. Both were homemade and left by friends. As different as one dish was from the other, they tasted equally of comfort. There is something about food and grief that are…

Kitchen Rage

There’s something centring about the act of cooking. Put it down to my churchly vocation, but I’ve long imagined the preparation of food as a contemplative act — there is a spiritual calm that comes with it. Whatever the day has held, an hour at the kitchen bench brings me home. As I dice, sauté…

Writing about food: celebrating the trivial

I am a glutton for good food writing. At its best it can transport me to far-away tables, tempt me with new tastes, prod my memories of heritage and family, confront prejudices and sharpen my sense of justice. With nothing but words, my imagination is fed and my living is challenged. I am richer for…

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….

Stephanie’s obsession

‘He’s obsessed!’ I heard a friend of mine described that way recently, behind his back. It’s a powerful tag. Most often it infers dysfunction. Proponents of that holy grail — work-life balance — paint obsession a failing, a roadblock in the pursuit of health and wholeness. But I do wonder, does obsession deserve a little more credit? I am…

Ghosts in our kitchens

I don’t believe in ghosts. Never have. Not once have I imagined the creaks that I hear in the middle of the night as anything other than the ageing sounds of an old house. That said, I do believe in spirits. Especially in my kitchen. In fact, I have one and I feel her presence…

Berry on eating

“The pleasure of eating should be an extensive pleasure, not that of the mere gourmet. People who know the garden in which their vegetables have grown and know that the garden is healthy will remember the beauty of the growing plants, perhaps in the dewy first light of morning when gardens are at their best….

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…

A Steamy Pentecost

In Eating Heaven, I tried to say something about the café and the role its tables play in our cities and lives. Then I find the collected poems of Irish poet Michael O’Siadhail, and discover he says it with more beauty and fewer words. I tip my hat. Lunchtime in a London Café Table by table…

Capon on the taste of eternity

“To be sure, food keeps us alive, but that is only its smallest and most temporary work. Its eternal purpose is to furnish our sensibilities against the day when we shall sit at the heavenly banquet and see how gracious the Lord is. Nourishment is necessary only for a while; what we shall need forever…

Capon on food as sacrament

“Food is the daily sacrament of unnecessary goodness, ordained for a continual remembrance that the world will always be more delicious than it is useful. Necessity is the mother of cliches. It takes playfulness to make poetry.” Robert Farrar Capon

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…