By Christina Ward
2023 • Process
Holy Food explores the influence of religious beliefs from mainstream to fringe on modern American food culture. Author Christina Ward unravels the numerous ways religious beliefs intersect with politics and economics and, of course, food to tell a different story of America. It's the story of true believers and charlatans, of idealists and visionaries, and of the everyday people who followed them—often at their peril. Holy Food explains how cataclysmic disasters of all types are connected to faith pioneers' personal journeys and reveals the interconnectivity between the sects and their leaders.
In America, where the freedom to believe whatever you want and worship the god not only of your own choice but of your own making embraced old traditions and invented new ones. Religious beliefs have been the source of food "rules" since Pythagoras told his followers not to eat beans (they contain souls), Kosher and Halal rules forbade the shrimp cocktail (shellfish are scavengers, or maybe G-d just said "no"). A long-ago Pope forbade Catholics to eat meat on Fridays (one should fast to atone for committed sins).
Rules about eating are present in nearly every American belief, from high-control groups that ban everything except "air" to the infamous strawberry shortcake that sated visitors to the Oneida Community in the late 1800s.
Holy Food looks at how the explosion of religious movements since the Great Awakenings (the nationwide religious revivals in the 1730s-40s and 1795-1835) birthed a cottage industry of food fads that gained mainstream acceptance. And at the obscure sects and communities of the 20th Century who dabbled in vague spirituality that used food to both entice and control followers. Ward skillfully navigates between academic studies, interviews, cookbooks, and religious texts of hundreds of groups to make sharp observations and new insights in this highly readable journey through the American kitchen.Holy Food features over 75 recipes from religious and communal groups tested and updated for modern cooks.
Tags: Books, food history, food writing, Pre-Order