Archives For Food

“How much?” the pastor jolted upright in his leather chair.

“Forty-thousand dollars,” she said.

“But…” he readjusted his glasses, “…why would…that many wouldn’t even fit in the church.”

“You might be surprised how much it costs to ship the best orchids, gazanias, and cherry blossoms from Brazil, South Africa, and Japan. Specialty flowers, you know, are my business.”

“But…” the pastor’s hand, having left his glasses, hung in mid air, “why not donate that money somewhere else…the building fund…some missionaries…the homeless shelter?” 

“I want to give God something beautiful.” 

“But, they’ll just die.”

“I know.” 

He opened his mouth, but nothing came out. He closed it again. “It just seems…” He faltered.

“…like a waste?” she said. 

He cleared his throat and looked away. 

*    *    *    *    * 

Photo 1447279506476 3faec8071eeePhoto courtesy of Jorge Zapata via 

As American Christians, we’re likely to sympathize with the pastor—unless, we find the same story in Matthew 26. There we find ointment instead of flowers, disciples instead of a pastor, and a woman wanting to do something beautiful for Jesus. 

Familiarity, they say, breeds contempt, but when it comes to Bible, familiarity makes us numb to the shock of the story. A year’s wages for five minutes of worship. Hundreds of poor people that could have been fed for months. Religious onlookers who thought they knew better. How would Jesus respond Continue Reading…


The last couple years, Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday has made me squirm. While I love listening to King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, it’s the other dream that bothers me, God’s dream, the one in Revelation 5, that salad bowl in heaven where people of every skin tone are tossed in together and worshipping side by side. It unsettles me, because my life and church look more like a bowl of Breyer’s Cookies and Cream, light on the cookies. 


Photo 1452693051753 f0acd4cfe723Photo courtesy of Pumpkins via


When I listen to King’s dream, I can feel good about the fact that two of my best friends have been an African American and Korean American. I can feel proud of my great grandmother from Canada who told me how her town, one of the final stops on the underground railway, helped runaway slaves integrate into society. 


When I listen to God’s dream, though, I find myself asking some hard questions, like whether my mostly white church should be mostly white. Or, whether it’s enough to enjoy diversity without taking any steps to heal the racial issues in my country Continue Reading…

If someone visited the churches in your city—let’s say the Protestant ones—what would they conclude about Christians, in terms of beauty? If the sanctuaries in your city are anything like mine, they’d assume that Christians don’t care much about it.

Sure, we appreciate beauty when it crosses our path—in a song by Adele or a handmade leather wallet—but only if we have time for it. In the hierarchy of life, there are more important things—like paying our heating bills, getting the brakes fixed, and telling people about Jesus. 

Photo 1443808709349 353c8b390400Photo courtesy of Artur Rutkowski via

But, while we might prioritize necessity over beauty, God never does. From the beginning, he wove aesthetics into the necessity of life. His new world wasn’t just sustainable and durable, it was also beautiful. We catch glimmers of that beauty when God observes his work and calls it “good” and when Adam enthuses after seeing Eve for the first time, but we run straight into it in chapter three—at the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil Continue Reading…

This post first ran in January as a guest blog on


It shocks me how many people haven’t heard about one of the epicurean gems in Dallas. So, for the good of my neighbors and delight of their tastebuds, I propose that everyone make a pilgrimage to the corner of Bryan Street and North Fitzhugh to visit Jimmy’s Food Store—twice—and that’s not a suggestion.  


Because, whether you work like Emeril in the kitchen or get by on Kraft dinners, your pasta skills can use the help. Jimmy’s Fine Italian Food and Wine works magic on the palate. Try adding a pound of sweet italian sausage to that no-name marinara sauce you bought for $1.98 and your spouse may worry that he forgot your anniversary. Or, if you live on a higher culinary plain, sauté the spicy variety with garlic-seared mushrooms before simmering in 28 ounces of imported San Marzano tomatoes. Your friends will wonder when Julia Child took possession of your body. 


Jimmys V3 0622BB 823x420


True, you’ll pay for it. But, what else can you expect after settling for that boring porker at the corner grocery store? And true, you’ll have to travel all that way for just one ingredient.  But that only bothers people who haven’t gone to Jimmy’s.  


Inside the store, teetering aisles crammed with imported cans lure the adventurer. Foreign labels flirt with language lovers. But Continue Reading…

Thank God for Pad Thai

smgianotti  —  January 14, 2015

The smell of spices wafted towards me, distracting me from my date’s prayer until he said, “God, thank you for giving Thai food to humanity.”


I choked on my saliva as I tried to hold back a laugh. In one sentence his prayer shattered the sombre Christianity that creeps around America. In thanking God for the heap of rice noodles between us, my date was paying homage to the Grand Chef who injected flavor and fun into the necessity of eating.


This incident reminded me that I need to make room in my prayers for Pad Thai…and electric blankets and Mozart’s concertos and when the Buckeye’s win (if I was an Ohio State fan).


7822721154 743871b42b cPhoto courtsey of Luca Nebuloni via


Too often my prayers–and my spirituality–fixate on the abstract. I know God wants me to pray, but does he really care if I love swing dancing? I know he wants me to forgive, but does it matter to him whether I appreciate the artistry in one of Emily Dickinson’s poems?  

Continue Reading…