Host Kristin Schell interviews chef and best-selling author Melissa d’Arabian. Melissa is an expert on affordable family cooking and author of the book, Tasting Grace. In this episode they discuss how Melissa’s career got started, her new book, and how her faith influences her approach to food. Melissa first realized her connection to food growing up in a single family home where money was tight. While she often experienced hunger at school, she saw the sacrifices her mom made to welcome others into their home with hospitality.
Melissa and Kristin discuss the problems with the way that our society approaches food. While we are as disconnected from the source of our food as we’ve ever been, we are also food obsessed; We have celebrity chefs, and we constantly post images of our food on the internet. There are some serious misconceptions about food in a world where we won’t eat a tomato because of the sugar content, but we’ll drink an artificially colored and sweetened sports drink. To develop a better philosophy and theology of food, Melissa looked to the Bible, where she couldn’t find any of the guilt language our society has about food. Instead, all the language around food was about loving, welcoming, and celebrating. It was observing these tensions in our food culture and this journey in the Bible that led Melissa to write Tasting Grace.
Melissa suggests we make two changes to our approach to food. First off, we should stop using guilt language. Second of all, we should stop viewing exercise as a punishment for eating too much. Both exercise and food are gifts and are meant to be enjoyed. Melissa discusses her own shift around the way she thinks about exercise. She has always thought about exercise primarily as something to improve her physical appearance, but now she’s begun to realize there are mental and emotional benefits to exercise that should be emphasized and leaned into.
The episode ends with Kristin and Melissa reminiscing about each of their times spent living in Paris. It was in the food shops there that Melissa found connection. She appreciated the way the French would slow down for their meals. Paris gave her the language of ingredients and interfacing with them. Paris also showed her the gift of patience and the notion that time spent around food is not time wasted.
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Podcast Discussion Guide
Confit de Canard. I’ve added a link to a recipe for the dish Melissa and I talked about from Café du Marché in Paris. I’ve never tried to make Confit de Canard, but it’s ooooh so delicious. Let me know if you try this recipe or have one of your own to share!
And if you want to oooh and ahhh, here’s a link to images of Café du Marché on rue Cler in Paris. When I was in my early 20’s I lived in the neighborhood, and this was one of my favorite places to eat.
The Spirit of Food Retreat hosted by Leslie Leyland Fields and Melissa July 11-18, 2020 in Alaska.
Supper for Sharing
What are two of your happiest childhood memories? What is one of your most embarrassing memories?