What I’m Reading: The Undoing of Saint Silvanus

When I think of my family, I cannot help thinking about shared meals and the foods that have been part of those meals. I remember Sunday dinners at my grandparents’ house after church and the much larger meals we ate together every Thanksgiving and Christmas. I remember the food disasters like the time we had blue chicken for dinner. I can’t eat popcorn without thinking of Friday nights spent with my grandma. She would slice apples and pop popcorn the old-fashioned way on the stove for a late evening snack. It still tastes best that way. Of course, there are also the family recipes like the monster cookies my great-granny would make for church camp each year and the lace cookies my grandma made at Christmas. I still make those every year to add to my holiday cookie trays. Some of my best memories have happened around a kitchen table as we shared our lives with each other, and those are memories I wouldn’t trade for anything.

I think Beth Moore must understand the impact food can have on people, the power it has to make them a family. In The Undoing of Saint Silvanus, food isn’t the star, but it doesn’t fade into the background. Jillian Slater is a California girl with California tastes when she travels to New Orleans after the death of her father. Estranged from his side of the family since childhood, the reunion with her paternal grandmother is strained, and her relationship with the rest of the renters in her grandmother’s apartment house isn’t much better. Everything they do and how they live is strange to Jillian. Add a helping of mystery and murder to the mix, and Jillian is ready to head for home. Gradually, Jillian begins to connect with those around her. Love of a good cup of coffee gives her and her grandmother something to share. Jillian begins eating meals with the others in the house, though she is reluctant to try their foods. She even gets a job in a place where practically the only thing on the menu is beignets. Though there is plenty of drama going on in their lives, Moore uses food to draw people together much like it can in real life.

Even God understands the drawing power of food. Scripture speaks several times of meals that Jesus shared with others and the relationships that were nurtured during those meals. When the people were hungry on the hillside, Jesus didn’t send people away. Instead, he performed a miracle, shared a meal, and taught everyone an important lesson about faith and God’s provision. And remember, Psalm 34:8 doesn’t say take God out for a test spin and see if you like Him. It says “taste and see that the Lord is good”. We’ve all had the experience of biting into something that is so good, so refreshing, so unexpected that we can’t help but react to how wonderful it is. God wants us to experience Him in the same way. When we’re spiritually hungry, He wants us to come to Him, seek Him out for ourselves, and find out how awesome He is.

By the Book: Use the recipe below to make a sweet reminder to take time to reflect times when you have tasted and seen that the Lord is good.

Lace Cookies

1 cup oats                    1 cup sugar                  ¼ tsp salt                     ½ tsp baking powder

1 stick butter               1 tsp vanilla                 1 egg                           3 T flour

Mix dry ingredients. Melt butter and pour over dry ingredients. Add vanilla and egg. Mix well. Refrigerate until set. Roll dough into marble sized balls. Place 2 inches apart on parchment paper covered cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Slide parchment paper off cookie sheet and let cookies cool completely before removing them from the paper.

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