My copy of The Spirit of Food came just in time for our move. I read it through our stay at Adam's parents' house, in small pieces when I could cobble together a contemplative moment. Many of the essays required just that as they explored the relationship between food and faith: how we come to the table, what we eat, when we fast, and how we feast.
As a person whose tastes are about as uncultured as they can be, I am endlessly fascinated by those who take eating and cooking seriously. I secretly want to be a foodie, but I don't have the desire and attention required to develop into one. I pride myself on my ability to make simple foods and to revel in their simplicity, but I have always thought of food as fuel and not as an experience of camaraderie and love.
Many of the essays in The Spirit of Food meditate on the table and coming together to break bread, two things where, as a wife and mother, I try to focus my attention. We sit down, we give thanks, we eat together. We are practicing what we hopefully remain a family habit for years to come. This inward hospitality will affect our relationships with each other and God.
Of the several books on food I've read, as part of my secret ambition of being a foodie, none have paired food with faith. Though I appreciate a collection that does, reading essay after essay that hammered home the same ideas and used the same scriptures to make their points made me able to only handle a bit at a time. However, I think this may be a good thing: this isn't a book to be rushed through, but rather (for lack of a better term) chewed on. A slow perusal is necessary to process and internalize what's being said.
What resonated most with me was the writing itself, as essays written by talented writers always do. They reminded me of the importance of telling my story, not only about food but about my life. The essays that resonated most with me were the first-person accounts, the glimpses into the writers' inner lives. Some essays are meant to be read for information, while others leave the reader with more. It's that interpersonal connection that draws me most to this collection, that when I walk away from reading it I am reassured that the world is a beautiful place and that I am not alone in it.