Bible is a Modern Culinary Manual, God is “First Foodie”: An Interview with Margaret Feinberg
Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. — Psalm 34:8 (NIV)
Why did God create food lush in flavor and rich in nutrients? How is food infused with sacred meaning? In our age of fast food and fads, what does it mean to experience foods of the Bible?
Bible Gateway interviewed Margaret Feinberg (@mafeinberg) about her book, Taste and See: Discovering God Among Butchers, Bakers, and Fresh Food Makers (Zondervan, 2019).Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, A Fresh Foodie Bible Study Adventure: An Interview with Margaret Feinberg]
What did you intend when you wrote Taste and See?
Margaret Feinberg: I wanted to create a spiritual travel and food guide that ensured you never read the Bible the same way again—or eat bread or olives the same way, for that matter. I descended 410 feet down a salt mine, fished on the Galilee, spent time with a famous fig farmer, brought in an olive harvest in Croatia, and even graduated with a Steakology 101 certificate after studying under a Texas butcher.
With each person, I asked how do you read these Scriptures—related to what you do to procure these foods—in light of what you do every day.
Their answers changed the way I read the Bible forever!
What did you learn from studying fruit in the Bible?
Margaret Feinberg: So many lessons! Here’s a quick one. On palm Sunday, many churches pass out palm branches. When we read of palm trees in the Bible we may be tempted to think of tropical island palm trees or tall palms from the famous streets of Los Angeles.
Yet whenever you read of palm tree in the Bible, it’s always referring to a date palm.
What does that matter?
Remember that when Jesus enters Jerusalem shortly before his arrest, he’s greeted by people waving date palm branches (John 12:13).
Now, in the ancient world, dates were a symbol of life over death. So when Jesus enters Jerusalem, people are prophetically waving him in with a message of life over death…and they likely didn’t even realize it.
Once you start to understand the background and significance of fruit, Bible passages come alive in a whole new way!Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, The Significance of Olives in the Bible]
What did you learn from helping to harvest olives on a remote island in Croatia?
Margaret Feinberg: Ooh, that’s one of my favorite chapters. Not only are their incredible lessons from the olive, it’s leaves, and those ancient trees, but sometimes the discoveries come in the process of harvesting.
I remember we drove an hour on gravel roads before we approached the olive grove. When I looked up the rugged mountainside, I thought we had to pick all the olive trees. Our host explained it was just two over in one direction and a single tree the opposite way. That’s all their family owned in that area—as the trees had been bartered and sold and passed down through generations.
Crumbling rock walls separated the olive trees. The result was a land fractured into a maze of rocky separations.
Studying the miles of labyrinth, I remembered the ancient Proverb: “Don’t cheat your neighbor by moving the ancient boundary markers set up by previous generations” (Proverbs 22:28, NLT).
Turns out no one in this community would dare pick another person’s tree or claim another tree as their own. Such actions would wound relationships and fracture the community. The unmoved stones serve as living reminders of the importance of respecting, remembering, and honoring the past as well as ensuring the future.
I spent much of the day considering what ancient boundaries I’d been trying to move instead of honoring and trusting.
How do you want readers to use your book?
Margaret Feinberg: I hope they’ll enjoy the incredible recipes, the hilarious adventures, and the richness of the accompanying 6-session DVD Bible Study.
But more than anything, I ache for readers to understand the richness of Scripture that comes from understanding the scientific, agricultural, ancient customs, and meaningful language surrounding food in the Bible.
None of those foods were created or crafted in a vacuum. They were plucked and winnowed and ground and kneaded and crushed and in all these steps, in all these transitions, we catch glimpses of God and the work God is doing in us. Plus, the book has delicious recipes and fun around the table activities so families can taste and see God’s goodness together.
Taste and See is published by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the parent company of Bible Gateway.
Bio: Margaret Feinberg is a popular Bible teacher and speaker at churches and leading conferences such as Catalyst, Thrive, and Women of Joy whose books have sold more than one million copies and received critical acclaim. She lives in Utah with her husband, Leif, who pastors a local campus, and their superpup, Hershey. She believes some of the best days are spent in jammies, laughing, and being silly.
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