I’m excited to introduce you to the writing team for Soul Food! Remember to join us each Friday as we offer up various thoughts on food – covering restaurant recommendations and recipes to theological thoughts on feasting.
Food and the table have played a central role throughout my life. Growing up, part of who we were as a family was and is a family that eats together. We always had breakfast together and always had dinner together. The table then is a very safe and secure place for me. After college as I sought to establish who I was, I began to practice what my parents had taught me–inviting others over to share a meal together. As I shared meals with more and more people, a question kept nagging at me: Why do we continue to sit at the table long after the meal is over, especially when way more comfortable chairs and sofas are usually only ten feet away? Is there something more going on when we dine together than simply physical nourishment? Ten years later, the question still nags, albeit in a more nuanced way, and while I continue to search, I do know that there is nothing that unites people more than a shared meal. The Lord has led me on an incredible journey, in which I have shared some incredible meals, read some incredible books, dialogued with some incredible people, and learned to cook and enjoy God’s amazing creation more and more.
Bio: Andrew Camp is a professional trained cook as well as a graduate of Talbot Seminary with a Masters in Spiritual Formation and Soul Care. He has been working in professional kitchens the past six years, while continually seeking to integrate food and faith. He occasionally blogs on his thoughts about the integration of food and faith at www.christianepicurean.wordpress.com. He and his wife, Claire, currently live just outside of Park City, UT.
I have a confession to make. When I was little, my favorite place to eat at was The Sizzler. Yes, The Sizzler. I especially loved the salad bar and my favorite part was the nacho cheese pump. Wait, how is that considered “salad”? I had an inordinate love for gooey, plastic-y, cheese sauce (and if I’m honest, I still would pig out on cheese sauce this very day, even though it sort of disgusts me). I enjoyed going back for plate after plate of cheese-drenched slop. Recently, I enjoyed a meal at a lovely restaurant that takes delight in experimenting with different flavors and will only use fresh, seasonal ingredients. A far cry from my days at The Sizzler. So, what changed? I don’t know if I can pin it down to one exact moment. It was a slow movement throughout my twenties when I learned to actually enjoy my food. But I do remember the day when I learned what it is to feast. I was in seminary and in one of my courses we took turns in groups leading the class through a chapel service. One group decided to focus their time on feasting. We began the service inside, but gradually transitioned outside, where a true feast was placed before us. The table was set simply, but beautifully, full of fun spreads, cheeses, and fruits. As each person stepped outside and caught their first glimpse of the table their delight was audible. We took our time and really enjoyed our food. We savored each bite as we similarly savored the company. We feasted. I love moments when we slow down and taste our food. In a way, we prepare ourselves for heaven, when we will sit down at the truest feast.
It began when I was eleven. I wanted, no, I needed, a cake decorating set. I proceeded home with my new tools and went to work “professionally” decorating a cake. After using my first batch of American Buttercream (Crisco based), I decided I could do better and made a second batch of icing, but didn’t like that layer of icing either. As I went on to my third batch (about three to four hours into my project), my parents and siblings, or in my opinion, audience of critics, started in with jokes and complaints about when they would get to eat this cake. I finished my fourth batch of icing and finally accepted my masterpiece was complete. Amazingly, my little cake had become extremely heavy, maybe after all my layers and layers of icing? I placed the cake on a fancy crystal platter and presented it to my family where upon the platter proceeded to crack and deposit my work of art on the kitchen floor to the applause of my family.
After recovering from my disastrous first attempt at baking and decorating a cake, I decided I can do better. That has become my mantra and my challenge. Finding the best recipe, making it better, making it unique and making it mine. So, after several semesters in baking school, Wilton cake decorating classes, many, many books and now the wonder of You Tube, I still feel, I can do better!
I despair at all the large, chain supermarket bakeries. With their tasteless, pre-frozen baked goods that have put so many small bakeries out of business I am always on the lookout for great bakeries; it’s all about the butter, the quality of ingredients and the passion to bake it right!
Bio: Lorraine Manglos has way too much fun enjoying retirement between volunteering many hours a week at her church, babysitting, lunch with friends and of course, baking her ever-loving brains out! When not doing these things, she can be found spending time with her husband Kurt, her two kids Andrew and Jen, and soon to be daughter in-law Alex. And who could forget the family dog, Mango.
Michelle Doerr has a complex relationship with food. Being a Type 1 diabetic, a disease traditionally known for mean and nasty food restrictions (i.e.joy restrictions), Michelle certainly should give the cold shoulder to many food choices and things offered to her. But, we’ll just say…..Michelle should not, currently, be a spokesperson for diabetes. You won’t hear her shouting or status updating “WATCH ME, FELLOW DIABETICS! Look at how I shun carbs!” Not at this point in her life, anyway. After years of trying hard to please parents, siblings, doctors, herself…..Michelle got really exhausted from playing the role of Guilt Enforcer, bounding disappointedly into each food scenario faster than a speeding bullet of perfection and shame. At this point, Michelle is fully aware that she’s playing, instead, the metaphorical diabetic teenager, rebelling and sneaking out of her window at night to meet up with a dangerous and mysterious boy named Huckleberry Doughnut. Playing with fire, essentially. (The fire being used to roast a melty, sticky, charred marshmallow.)
Hopefully someday soon Michelle will desire good health and diabetes control more than she desires a rosemary biscuit with honey butter. Right now, however, Michelle fully believes in and embraces edible happiness.
Bio: Michelle is a Northwesterner by birth, and a Californian by way of God’s funny planning. She worked for 9 years at Saddleback Church, and has recently transitioned out of her comfort zone and into a zone of newness and adventure, working for Free Wheelchair Mission, a non-profit founded in 2001. Michelle loves reading, going to the library, convincing people of how great the library is, being an aunt to 6 nieces and nephews, laughing at nonsense, and discovering new food places.
Monica Romig Green
I’ve always liked food and the experience of eating with others. My family ate dinner together every night when I was growing up, and it was where we’d share about our days. My parents also used to celebrate our achievements by taking us out to dinner at the restaurant of our choosing. But I never really understood what cooking and dining could be until my dear friend Mike invited me to an evening at Patina, one of the finest restaurants in Los Angeles, followed by a concert at Walt Disney Hall. I had never had a meal like that before. Each course was exquisitely prepared to be a delight first to the eye, and then to the taste. Each bite delivered interesting juxtapositions of textures, flavors and smells. At the end of the meal, we were running a bit late, so we rushed off to the symphony, just in time for the first downbeat. As I listened to the Philharmonic bring to life composed arrangements of tones, rhythms and harmonies, I realized that I was having an aural experience akin to the meal we’d just eaten. When we finally experienced a pause over tea and dessert at intermission, I burst into tears. I was overwhelmed with all the beauty all my senses were experiencing in the span of just one night. And at its root was the most beautiful thing of all: my friend Mike’s heart. He had given me this gift to express his gratitude for our friendship. That evening transformed me, giving me a new appreciation of food and dining as art, as beauty, whose execution and enjoyment could be an expression of love.
Bio: Monica Romig Green is the Director of the Evangelical Spiritual Directors Association (ESDA), a network of amazing spiritual directors. She also co-writes really interesting spiritual formation studies for churches for ECSW. And she loves leading highly interactive retreats she calls Pray Thru Play. While a Californian through and through, she has just moved to Dallas, Texas, with her super handsome, smarty-pants husband Matthew.
The year was 1978 when as a 15 year-old picky eater I discovered a world of food on a tour of Europe. I discovered that the drinking age in the UK is 19 the morning AFTER a tankard of Guinness at the local pub. I discovered that cow tongue makes a tasty sandwich. (I also discovered an Irish pub band calling themselves “U2”, but that’s a different story.) Most importantly I discovered portion control – if I didn’t eat everything I was served, and I mean everything, I starved. There’s nothing like a growth spurt to widen one’s food experience.
Scripture tells us “taste and see that The Lord is good.” But often we have to go through a spiritual growth spurt before we’re willing to do that. While this verse in Psalm 34 is about more than food, God knows that we think through our stomachs. Together let’s taste and see the spiritual and gastronomic adventure that lies before us.
Bio: Tom was born and raised in Southern California just ahead of the urban sprawl that has become Los Angeles. Prior to his current day job leading the Ghost Town & Calico Railroad at Knott’s Berry Farm, Tom had a career in Food Service Management. He studied philosophy and theology at Biola University in La Mirada, California and ironically now holds degrees in Hamburgerology (B.H., McDonald’s, 1990), Philosophy (B.A., Biola, 2006), and Theology – Spiritual Formation emphasis (M.A., Talbot, 2010). When not spending time with his wife Tina, Tom is an avid people-watcher. He enjoys writing about the intersection of real life and biblical principles. He blogs at markerlamp.wordpress.com