“I Have Not Read This Book Before.”

Screen shot 2013-07-17 at 6.38.44 PM

Katherine Willis Pershey, the (very talented) author of Any Day a Beautiful Change, has written a lovely review of my book in the Englewood Review of Books. I loved that she began by saying that she’s read most of the locavore/foodie books, and dreaded that my book might be a sort of “Pollan-lite” for Christians, but found herself saying “I have not read this book before.” And one of her favorite parts of the book was one of my favorite parts–a story about Jack and Edie.

Alas, her review is not readable online, but you can find subscription information for the (truly excellent) Englewood Review of Books here.

And (shameless plug) if you want to buy my book you can do so at Hearts & Minds Books, the IVP website, or Amazon.com.



On the Radio…and On the Classics


Sometimes my mom, after serving Sunday mornings wiping noses in the nursery like the good pastor’s wife she was (is), would pop in a tape (remember those?) of the sermon into the living room stereo system. And if my dad happened to wander into the room, he’d run away going blah blah blah so he wouldn’t have to hear himself.

I so get that. It’s incredibly awkward and uncomfortable to hear your own voice, a sure indication that it’s best not to spend much time listening to yourself.  Besides, I’d rather listen to This American Life or Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me or one of my many audiobooks, which range from total classics (if you haven’t listened to a reading of Dracula, you are MISSING OUT) and histories of epidemic diseases (I swear, just can’t get enough) to just for fun (David Sedaris, Tina Fey).

A Classic I Don't Own on Audiobook. (Illustration courtesy of Aidan, age 7)
A Classic I Don’t Own on Audiobook. (Illustration courtesy of Aidan, age 7)

But I’ve been on the airwaves or whatever they are talking about my book, and if you’d like to listen, here is a representative link: A Theology of Eating at My Faith Radio. I also had the pleasure of talking to Fr. Dave Dwyer on Busted Halo last night (this morning, for me!) and that podcast should be up soon.

Meanwhile here are ten of my favorite ‘classics,’ loosely defined, in Englewood Review of Books’ ‘Writer’s on the Classics’ series.

The Groaning Table

I have a guest post on the Slow Church blog, which is written by my friend and fellow forthcoming IVP author Chris Smith (also of Englewood Review of Books. Chris recently asked a number of friends to read, reflect, and write on Wendell Berry’s essay “Health is Membership.” Here’s my contribution.

The Groaning Table

My grandmother was born at home in New York City in 1925 – exactly the time when more and more women, especially city women, began to choose hospital over home as the place to have babies. It wasn’t that my great-grandmother was afraid of the hospital or of doctors; or that she wanted to keep the baby away from sick people who might have contaminated the hospital halls. Rather, it was that she’d heard that the hospital didn’t have very good food.

I remember great-grandma Katherine the way you remember a dream by the mid-afternoon, in random yet related pieces. When I think of her, I see first a shadowy image of her – a tall, square-shouldered woman – in a chair, which cuts quickly to a snapshot of her smiling over a plump, baby version of me in a garish vinyl seat. There’s also a 5-second clip of the two of us laughing over the black dog, Chloe, who prances and plays a piece of red blanket. And that is it. The rest of what I know is what I have been told.

She was born in the 19th century to a mother who had left Ireland in the potato famine and who then married a horse trainer that she met on the steps of the 42nd Street library. She had influenza in the pandemic of 1918; she spent a year in bed and recovered. This is a fact my grandmother will refer repeatedly to as evidence, first, that we are the inheritors of ‘hardy genes’; second, that resting in bed is the best medicine for a cold; third, that, before going to bed with a cold, you should have a hot toddy made with Christian Brothers brandy, a remedy of Irish Catholic grandmothers, never known to fail.

I want to believe all of this so much; to exist someplace where the advice to drink a hot toddy and go to bed when I’m feeling achy and congested is solid wisdom (not antiquated and vaguely irresponsible) while the advice to take some drops of echinacea and zinc and continue dragging myself through my routines is dangerous and faddish. To live in a world where a woman’s decision to give birth at home because she knows that, at home, the food will be good is sensible, not selfish.

{Continue reading the rest at the Slow Church blog…}