BOOK REVIEW: TASTE AND SEE by Margaret Feinberg
I had the privilege of attending Margaret Feinberg and Jonathan Merritt’s writing conference in Atlanta back in 2015. It was my first time to fly solo, rent a car by myself, & sleep in a hotel room alone. I only had one semi-meltdown when I couldn’t find where to return the rental & thought I was going to miss my flight home. Otherwise, those couple of days were bliss. Atlanta was actual experiencing a true fall, cool weather & trees full of foliage, & I got to sit in a room & listen to true authors talk writing all day long. I remember getting to submit a piece for Margaret to edit & later hold a Skype session with so she could give me her critique. I hung onto every word she said & every note she gave as if she was sneaking me secret codes into the publishing world with her pup, Hershey, by her side.
She’s as lovely as you may think, & if you’ve never read her work, I have just the book to serve as your introduction– Taste and See, Discovering God Among Butchers, Bakers, & Fresh Food Makers. If you love travel, excellent, If you love food & recipes in every chapter, perfect. If you want a new lens as you read over the seven most mentioned foods in the Bible, welcome.
Margaret offers a chapter to each of these ancient foods: fish, figs, bread, salt, olives, & lamb. She travels all over the world to immerse herself in each food’s heritage as she spends time with aficionados. When she wore borrowed waders in the Sea of Galilee, I felt as if I helped haul all the St Peter’s fish to shore in nets. I learned how to choose the best figs, whether off the vine or in the grocery store, & I’m certain I’ll never create a cheeseboard again without them. When Margaret picked olives in Croatia with Mama, I wanted to drink the olive oil they produced. I’m pretty sure I’ll be devoting time in the upcoming months to learning the art of baking my own bread, & I want to start a serious salt collection for my kitchen table. I still feel a little claustrophobic at the thought of traveling deep into a salt mine, but I’m adding it to my bucket list either way.
What I love most about this book is that as I read each chapter about food, there was a consistent desire in my heart to orchestrate more community in my life. That’s what food does, right? Or at least that’s what it’s meant to do? It slows us down & brings us together. Food plants us around a table, our ears & mouths at the same level as those around us, making it more natural to listen & communicate, all while keeping our hands busy. I think Margaret says it best: “As we break bread, we find the satisfaction of our deepest hungers in the community our souls crave” (172). Reading her words encourages me, too, not to wait for the party or the gathering but to start tonight, in my home, with my little family. Instead of inhaling our food around a tv or having our phones out, to look each other in the eye & let each other know how thankful we are to hold hands & sit near one another. You can talk & laugh amongst cardboard boxes of pizza between each other in your living room just as easily as you can a fresh filet of fish, salt thick in the air. I can honestly say I miss out on conversations most around the table when I’m so distracted & trying to make sure every detail of the meal is perfect. The food brings us together. The conversation is what we remember.