As I sit and write this review the scent of two freshly baked pies fills the house and my hands smell of orange,curry, mace and ginger (remnants from my cranberry sauce). Tomorrow is thanksgiving and we are looking forward to our Turkey dinner, complete with all the fixings–stuffing, mashed patatoes, yams, brussel sprouts, green beans, and gratitude.
In Keeping the Feast: Metaphors for the Meal Milton Brasher-Cunningham draws on his gifts as a writer, chef, minister and teacher to explore the meaning of ‘the meal,’ relating his reflections on food (and cooking) with the central meal of the Christian faith, Holy Communion. Brasher-Cunningham presses into what the meaning of community is and how community is built around a table. He also opens up the meaning of ritual (not a lifeless act, but as a meaningful routine which shapes us through our practice). Preparing food and eating a good meal around the table show us what the Eucharist is; the Eucharist makes our daily meals sacred. Each chapter opens with a poem and closes with a recipe and Brasher-Cunningham shares lots of stories of his experience as a musician and lyricist, an apprenticed chef and as a UCC minister.
The focus of these essays is the Body of Christ gathered around the table. Often reflections on communion either talk about communion as a sacrament (a means of grace) or as a memorial (do this in remembrance of me). What Brasher-Cunningham writes seems to accommodate both views but he doesn’t delve too deeply into theology (his own movement from the Baptist tradition to a mainline denomination signals a shift away from a mere memorial view). Instead he focuses on the experience of gathering as a community and the effect communion has on us.
I enjoyed these essays a lot and found that they appealed to my inner-foodie. My inner-theologian wanted more robust reflection but these are well written and thoughtful (not fluff). I love the way poetry and recipes punctuate this book and give it shape. It is beautifully written and well crafted. Through reviewing this book I discovered Milton’s blog at www.donteatalone.com and his recipe blog. I recommend this book to fellow foodies and for those of us who find communion meaningful and those of us who wonder what all the fuss is about. There are a couple of recipes in here I will try (cooking the brussel sprouts recipe tomorrow).
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Keep the Feast (Eucharist means thanksgiving so if you do your Thanksgiving right, you also will re-member Christ).
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.