Review of Taste and See

Taste and See, by Margaret Feinberg, is a book about a topic near and dear to my heart–foods in the Bible.

Feinberg is a noted Bible teacher and speaker who has sold over one million books, including Fight Back with Joy and Wonderstruck. She’s a frequent speaker at Christian conferences. 

In this book Feinberg takes you through different food groups in the Bible: Fish, Figs, Bread, Salt, Olives, and Lamb. She writes about her travels to Israel, the Holy Land, and the Mediterranean where she tries to learn more about each food; how native people pick, catch, and prepare these foods, how many of them continue to follow ancient traditions and customs to this day, how these foods still influence the local culture and the world today. She talks about places in the Bible that mention the foods and reviews their spiritual significance. 

I admit, I was a little envious of Margaret, because this is precisely the kind of trip I would love to take. But I know realistically I can’t. So I’m thrilled that she’s taken the trip and has documented it so I can experience it vicariously. I also love how she’s included a number of recipes–the main ingredient of these recipes are the very food she’s talking about from the Bible. In some cases (like her recipe for matzo), the recipes are likely very close to what they would have eaten in Bible times; in other cases the recipes are more modern, but still delicious. (By the way, a few years ago, I became a bit obsessed with trying to a cookbook that let me cook food just like they ate in Bible times. The best I could find (and a pretty good one) was Loaves and Fishes by Malvina Kinard). 

If there’s one gripe I have about the writing, it’s that it seems that Feinberg is trying to do too much at once sometimes. This a book that seems to be many books in one. It’s a travelogue, a devotional, a history book, a Bible commentary, a nutrition guide, and a cookbook all in one. It’s all fascinating and all well done, but at times it seems that the topics and styles blend together. 

Still, that’s only one gripe in what otherwise is a fascinating read. When we read the Bible, when we get to the parts about food, we tend to visualize food as we know them (a loaf of Wonder Bread in a bag, a box of Fig Newtons, a plate of fish and chips, and so on going up and down the supermarket aisle). What I love about this book is that it helps you understand the culture and historical significance of the food, which helps open your eyes to more fully understand when the Bible uses food as symbols or metaphors.