Taste and See – Margaret Feinberg

A couple of years ago I wrote a bibliography when I was teaching a Lenten Course called Eucharistic Eating. When I compiled it, I noticed that it was rather low on books dealing with the Eucharist, or food and theology. I’ve finally getting around to correcting this. One of the first books I’ve picked up in that regard, is Margaret Feinberg’s, Taste and See: Discovering God Among Butchers, Bakers, & Fresh Food Makers.

Taste and See cover
Taste and See cover shot.

Taste and See Review

Feinberg’s book starts with story of a meal. A meal that she and her husband Leif, didn’t want to attend. Ready to eat and run, the meal instead becomes a turning point. The love expressed, but in the welcome from their friends and the care put into the food, planted a seed in Feinberg’s mind. Another meal, years later, started that seed germinating. Sharing her story of that meal and listening to others share special meals in their lives, made her realize, in a new way  God’s presence in those meals.

As Feinberg dug deeper into the Biblical texts she became ever more aware how often food plays a major role in the text, and how her perspective on the texts wad shifted because of the way the Bible talks about food.

At the end of the first chapter she describes her decision to focus on six foods that are mentioned in the Bible. I was at first slightly dismayed when I read that. My head is swimming with visions of the book turning into a WWJE What Would Jesus Eat, kind of diet manual. I happy to say I am disappointed on that front.

Food, Physical and Spiritual

What Feinberg does instead, is take a look at each of these foods on two levels. The first is looking int the background and history of the six foods: Fish, Figs, Unleavened Bread, Salt, Olives, and Lamb Chops. Each of these foods is worth of a deep dive, and I liked the fact that in the endnotes she references Mort Rosenblum’s book on olives.

The second thing she does is offers a fresh glance at how many Biblical accounts come alive in a new way as we understand better the food that is being talked about. For example, on pages 42-43, talking about the different types of nets used for fishing and Peter’s hauling of fish on board, is likely a second catch. Along with this she offers personal applications that can be observed in these Scriptural accounts.

There are a couple of things about the book that I wish were a little different. One is on the food front. While I appreciate the importance of good food, the recipes and the produce talked about are out of the reach of many people. It’s much like when people are encouraged to shop at farmers’s markets. They are good, and should be supported, but they are simply unavailable to a large number of people.

Second, although Feinberg clearly shows the value of relationships in the book, many of the spiritual lessons seem to have a very individualistic approach. It would be good to see more about how these spiritual lessons will be played out in the body of Christ. Still, this is a book I highly recommend. There is much to learn hear. It’s a very good preacher’s resource, and will help you think about food and faith in new ways.

Recipe Test

I wanted to try out one of the recipes in the book, so I chose the one for Chocolate Pomegranate drops. I learned a few things. Trying to de-seed a pomegranate for the first time is more challenging than it appears. Second, these things taste fantastic. My original goal was to make them with semi-sweet, and then with dark chocolate. As things worked out I only got around to the dark chocolate version. The taste on these really pops out. This is a delightful treat. I ended up sending most of them how with the Holy Trinity parish administrator, whose husband is Celiac. The recipe is copied from the book. I recommend of course that you buy the book, so that you can get the other recipes.

Pomegranate bites

A trayful of Pomegranate, Chocolate bites.

Chocolate Pomegranate Drops

L A U R I  A N D L E A H ’ S  C H O C O L AT E
POMEGRANATE DROPS
When Lauri first served these chocolate drop cookies, the
sweet pop of juicy pomegranates and lush chocolate made
me a lifelong fan. I hope you receive the same rave reviews
from those you share them with—including your gluten-free
friends.
PREP: 10 minutes COOK: 3 minutes COOL: 45

2 pomegranates
12 oz. bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
DIRECTIONS
1. Remove the juicy seeds from the pomegranates or
buy them pre-removed. If you’re removing the pulpy
seeds (which resemble grains of corn), use a sharp
knife to score the outside skin of the pomegranate.
Fill a medium-sized mixing bowl with water and break
the pomegranate open under the water. This prevents
the juice from spraying and the seeds will sink to the
bottom, separating from the pulp, which will float to the
top. Rinse and strain the pulpy seeds.

2. Dry the outside of the juicy seeds completely.

Chocolate Pomegranate drops
Three of the Chocolate Pomegranate drops on a plate. They did not stay there for long.

3. Melt chocolate chips either on the stove or in a
microwave-safe dish. If you’re using the microwave,
I recommend heating half of the bag at a time and

stirring frequently until completely melted

4. Set aside a small portion of the seeds for garnishing
at the end. Gently mix the remaining seeds in with the
melted chocolate. Some people prefer more chocolate
or more pomegranates, so you can play with the
proportions.

5. Spoon tablespoonfuls of the chocolate-pomegranate
mixture onto a baking sheet that has been covered in
wax paper or parchment. Garnish each clump with a few
non-chocolatey pomegranate seeds for presentation.
Chill in the fridge about 30–45 minutes until they
harden.
Makes 15–20 drops.

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