The new book Taste and See: Experiences of God’s Goodness Through Stories, Poems, and Food as Seen by a Mother and Daughter by Joanna ES Campbell and the Rev. Joanna J. Seibert M.D. is a very imaginative collection of family stories blended together with recipes, poetry and photos. This book, from by Temenos Publishing, due out October 18, 2014, will be available through Temenos, Amazon and at Wordsworth. I recently had the opportunity speak to Rev. Seibert about Taste and See, and she generously shared details about how she and her daughter created this spiritually nourishing volume.
Rev. Seibert explains that the idea of combining recipes with poems and faith-based stories was something that came about organically. The two Joannas set out to write a book about seeing God’s presence in difficult times. While recounting the personal stories that they wanted to include in the book, the ladies would often realize that food played an important role in the tale and decided to include recipes with many of these stories.
Listening to so many authors lament the challenges and struggles that they face in writing a book, it was refreshing to hear Rev. Seibert admit that working on Taste and See was the easiest thing she’s ever done. She credits her daughter’s intuitiveness with helping the process to go so smoothly.
When asked what was the single most important thing she hoped readers would get out of this book, Rev. Seibert expressed the hope that, through reading her family’s stories, people would recall similar memories from their own lives, saying: “We’re telling our story but the most important thing is for you to tell your story.”
Humor, love, tenderness and candor, are ever present in the stories and poems featured in this book. From the very relatable piece by Campbell titled Cooking as a Spiritual Practice, about her early culinary endeavors, to Seibert’s poignant Tasting the Present: What I Have Learned from My Daughter, this book contains heartfelt stories that are every bit as comforting as the comfort food described.
One of my personal favorites is Christmas Eve Chocolate Communion, in which St. Luke’s Episcopal Church priest Father Carey is handing out chocolate candy to the children at a Christmas Eve pageant, while explaining in detail how chocolate is made. He uses the story as an analogy, comparing the necessity of tasting the chocolate in order to understand it, with the necessity of experiencing God’s presence, firsthand, rather than just learning about Him from others.
The recipes included range from Mom’s Red Beans and Rice, to such exotic fare as Papou’s Greek Salad (Hoviatiki), and delectable sweets like Joanna’s Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe.
It isn’t every mother and daughter who could write a book together but, through reading Taste and See, it is clear that the two have a special relationship and that the Seiberts are no ordinary family.
Proceeds from Taste and See: Experiences of God’s Goodness Through Stories, Poems, and Food As Seen by a Mother and Daughter go to Camp Mitchell Episcopal Camp and Conference Center for the Episcopal Church in Arkansas.
Rev. Joanna Seibert M.D. is a professor of radiology and pediatrics at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences. She is also an ordained deacon of the Episcopal Church in Arkansas. Her previous books include Healing Presence; The Call of the Psalms: A Spiritual Companion for Busy People; and The Call of the Psalms: A Spiritual Companion for People in Recovery.
Joanna E.S. Campbell has earned a Master of Science in Resource Conservation from the University of Montana and is currently in the Creative Writing M.F.A. program at Seattle Pacific University.
A launch party for Taste and See is scheduled for October 18, 2014 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Trapnall Hall in Little Rock.