ברוך אתה ה' אלהינו מלך העולם,
for you give us food to sustain our lives and make our hearts glad …
As the combined Jewish and Episcopal blessings above suggest, food is essential and food is a gift. Food nourishes our bodies and keeps us healthy and well. But food is more than mere sustenance. Food and drink can please us and bring us joy, and that's important too. We should take care to ensure that others are fed, in our communities and around the world. It's important to speak out for food justice, to examine and challenge the systems of food production and food distribution, locally and internationally, and to stand to protect the weakest and least of those who work on the world's farms, toil in food production and distribution factories and work in fast-food chains and white-tablecloth restaurants. It's all connected, and when the 19th century French gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote, “Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you who you are,” he might have been talking about all this. Food shapes us and our culture.
I hope somehow to use these blog pages to assemble an intriguing stew out of the diverse ingredients that have made up my life as journalist, writer, occasional playwright and minor personality for a tiny rural public-radio station in the Catskills mountains; foodie and amateur cook since the days of Julia and James and Craig; restaurant critic and wine writer for almost that long; and, more recently, accidental almost-vegetarian. Hunger-and-poverty and social-justice advocate and left-leaning liberal, seminarian, part-time preacher and teacher and, briefly, hospital chaplain, computer and technology geek. Fluent in sarcasm and competent at snark but essentially, I hope, kind of heart.
In recent years, particularly in my studies at Louisville Presbyterian Seminary, placements and internships at St. Luke's, Ascension, St. Matthew's and St. Thomas Episcopal churches around Louisville and a recent summer chaplaincy internship at Baptist Health Services Louisville (formerly Baptist Hospital East), I've come increasingly to recognize that food, eating, cooking sharing and food justice are all related. I'll post about these things, and the connections that I see among them, and pretty much anything else that seems to fit in, from recipes to sermons or great cheap wine reports, now and then in this blog.