Thursday, July 8, 2010

Stories About Food and Faith

Food should be fun. Food should be shared with friends and family. Food should be about feeding those who are hungry. I believe all those things should combine with our faith in God, because he is the creator of us and the food we eat. That’s what this blog is about. I want to tell you my stories about food and how I became the person I am.

I grew up on a farm in Arizona, surrounded by golden wheat stocks, crisp lettuce, sweet cantaloupe and thousands and thousands of cattle. My brother and I used to fish for catfish on the Colorado River a mile from my house. My first memories of cooking was of my grandmother and her fried chicken. I fell in love with Mexican food because the farm I grew up on was 30 miles from the Mexican border, and most of my dad’s laborers came from south of the border. Those guys used to bring the most scrumptious little burritos and sell them to us gringos for 50 cents apiece. When I got to college, I was the only one of my four roommates who could cook. I quickly found out that girls would pay for the food if I cooked on Friday nights.

Then cooking just sort of took a hiatus for 10 years after college while I focused on my newspaper journalism career. After my divorce in 1994, cooking became a hobby again. I baked at 1 a.m. when I got home from work. I started cooking healthy meals for my son, so he wouldn’t have to eat from box mixes and frozen junk. In the singles ministries I led in various churches, potlucks became a regular part of our gatherings. On campouts with single-parent families, we kept chili or stew hot on the fire, ready to feed families as they arrived. While mom and the kids chowed down, the guys would pitch their tent and make them feel at home for the weekend.

I started catering in 2004 with “Awesome Salsa & Guacamole,” mostly to make ends meet as a single dad. My son, one of his buddies and me would work a 10-foot x 10-foot screened area at art and wine festivals on weekends. I got to write about some of those adventures through a regular column in the local newspaper. My church started asking me to cater dinners. I wasn’t much with a hammer and nail on those roofing missions to Hackberry, La., but I sure could feed the troops some mighty fine grub. I even met my wife through food; she attended a dinner I helped cook at my church. Now we work together to cater that same monthly dinner.

Along the way, I began to see that food was a gift from God, given to us to, not only enjoy, but to relate to each other. In the Old Testament, the Israelites called their gatherings “feasts” or “festivals.” In the New Testament, Jesus seems to feel pretty comfortable slipping off his dusty sandals and eating a hardy meal every night with either saints or sinners – or both. He seemed rather irritated that his mom dragged him away from his friends to turn water into wine – the best wine. The last gathering with his disciples was over coal-baked fish on the beach for one last meal with his buddies. Sounds like he was having fun.

The Bible uses food countless times as metaphors for life. The Israelites ate manna falling from the sky. Fishermen, shepherds and farmers played key roles in biblical stories because they were simple and hard-working. The early sign of Christians was that of a fish. Jesus himself said, “I am the bread of life.” Sure seems to me that God gave us food to send us a few messages.

Food wasn’t meant to be bland, or else he wouldn’t have given us salt and dozens of other spices mentioned in the Bible to “flavor” food. He wants us to experience life abundantly. Get my point? Every time I cook, I see God, smell God, taste God and sense his presence as I cook, whether on my backyard barbecue, in my church’s kitchen or on a mission somewhere in the world.

Join me on this journey about faith, family, friends, feeding the hungry and having fun – all tied together through this wonderful thing we call food.

On Saturday, I'll be participating in a Chili Cookoff. Come visit me. You can find the necessary info at this link:

No comments:

Post a Comment