How Cults, Communes, and Religious Movements Influenced What We Eat — An American History
Published by: Process
Does God have a recipe?
"Holy Food is a titanic feat of research and a fascinating exploration of American faith and culinary rites. Christina Ward is the perfect guide – generous, wise, and ecumenical." — Adam Chandler, author of Drive-Thru Dreams
"Holy Food doesn't just trace the influence that preachers, gurus, and cult leaders have had on American cuisine. It offers a unique look at the ways spirituality—whether in the form of fringe cults or major religions—has shaped our culture. Christina Ward has gone spelunking into some very odd corners of American history to unearth this fascinating collection of stories and recipes." — Jonathan Kauffmann, author of Hippie Food: How Back-to-the-Landers, Longhairs, and Revolutionaries Changed the Way We Eat
"An engaging book that shares everything from little-known facts to illuminating profiles of historical figures. Best of all, Ward shares recipes from historic religious communities, updated to reflect modern cooking technology. A must-have for food historians, religious historians, or just the curious and hungry folks in your life. " — Dr. Julia Skinner, author of Our Fermented Lives
Independent food historian Christina Ward’s highly anticipated Holy Food explores the influence of mainstream to fringe religious beliefs 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 faith pioneers used societal woes and cultural trends to create new pathways of belief and reveals the interconnectivity between sects and their leaders.
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 from eating meat on Fridays (fasting 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. Only in the United States—where the freedom to worship the God of your choice and sometimes of your own making—could people embrace new ideas about religion. It is in this over-stirred pot of liberation, revolution, and mysticism that we discover God cares about what you put in your mouth.
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 to make sharp observations with new insights into American history 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. Also includes over 100 historic black-and-white images.
"Ward uses deep-dive research on religious history, and an equally deep knowledge of food, to show us how the two are intimately connected. Not only do we eat and drink within our religious rituals, but religion informs what and how we eat as well (and what and how we eat informs religion, too). An engaging book that shares everything from little-known facts to illuminating profiles of historical figures. Best of all, Ward shares recipes from historic religious communities, updated to reflect modern cooking technology. A must-have for food historians, religious historians, or just the curious and hungry folks in your life. " --Dr. Julia Skinner, author of Our Fermented Lives
About American Advertising Cookbooks: "A photograph of a luncheon-meat salad mold is scarcely more horrifying than the details that led to the creation of the dish. There is much to learn in this book." Florence Fabricant, New York Times
About American Advertising Cookbooks: "If the mind-blowing plethora of elegant and fastidiously researched recipes, adverts and book covers seems odd or silly to a reader, they are clearly not looking at what a quality piece of literature this book is. Ward’s thorough research, accessible discussions on colonialism, Puritan and Calvinist practices, racism as a marketing ploy (Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben anyone?), and the Christian Missionary connection to, well, fruit make American Advertising Cookbooks: How Corporations Taught Us to Love Spam, Bananas and Jell-O a necessary addition to anyone’s library who is interested in food, US history, social politics or simply a damn good book." Ariel Schudson, Dangerous Minds
"Christina Ward's book Preservation is a surprisingly sprightly look at the history and practice of food preservation, complete with recipes for everything from kombucha to kimchee to jam." -Grumpy Book Reviews
"With its deeply researched advice, some historical background about food preservation and recipes―from garlic jelly and mak kimchi to spicy Guinness Stout mustard and green tomato pie filling― Preservation is a treasure." -Edible Door Magazine
"For canners who like a goodly dose of science with their jams and pickles, there is no better book than Christina Ward’s comprehensive volume. She is a master food preserver who digs into the hows and whys of water activity, pectin, and the boiling water bath process." -Food in Jars
"Preservation is a one-stop compendium on pickling, drying, and otherwise immortalizing virtually any munchie you can imagine, which can then be saved long-term for just the right post-pot pig-out." -Merry Jane
"The book is flawlessly arranged, with careful summaries of the material and cautionary tales: After all, we are dealing here with matters of potential sickness, life and death. But the reader never feels daunted – preservation is a social process, like all labor, and Ms. Ward gives you the confidence to begin with the clearest possible step-by-step instructions. And it is also a very funny book. Even if you never pickle a single tomato, Preservation not only preserves the mind but spikes it with a healthy dose of vinegar and the sweetness of a nightjar’s song."-CounterPunch Magazine