Food, Feasts, and Faith: An Encyclopedia of Food Culture in World Religions

By Moffitt, Sally | Reference & User Services Quarterly, Summer 2019 | Go to article overview

Food, Feasts, and Faith: An Encyclopedia of Food Culture in World Religions


Moffitt, Sally, Reference & User Services Quarterly


Food, Feasts, and Faith: An Encyclopedia of Food Culture in World Religions. By Paul Fieldhouse. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2017. 2 vols. Acid-free $189 (ISBN 978-161069-411-7). E-book Available (1-61069-412-4), call for pricing.

The alliterative Food, Feasts, and Faith: An Encyclopedia of Food Culture in World Religions brings together information about the uses of food and drink within the faith practices of well-known religions with global adherents such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism as well as lesser-known faith communities and sects such as Candomble, Rastafari, Santeria, and the indigenous peoples of Africa, Australia, and America. Articles, which follow a standard A to Z arrangement, cover customs (fish on Friday), food stuffs (rice), drink (wine), people (Guru Nanak), festivals (Qingming), practices (fasting), rituals (marriage ceremonies), religious groups (Seventh-Day Adventists), and sacred texts (Laws of Manu) to name but a few of the 226 entries and 220 or so related topics. Each article includes see also references and lists sources for further reading. Twenty-seven primary source documents such as "The Taittiriya Upanishad on Food" (2:577) supplement the main work. Each is briefly introduced for context, given see also references to related articles, and provided with a citation to the source from which the excerpted text is taken.

Religious calendars, black and white photographs, and sidebars illustrate many of the entries. The former are based on or converted to the 2017 Gregorian calendar necessitating updating in subsequent years.

Food, Feasts, and Faith concludes with a listing of mostly recent books and websites (without the date accessed), the credentials of the encyclopedia's sole author, and an impressively comprehensive index. Largely of interest to a North American audience, Food, Feasts, and Faith is suitable as an introduction to the diversity of religious practices associated with food for high school students, lower division undergraduates, and public library general readers.

Encyclopedia of Food and Culture (Scribner/Thompson Gale, 2003), a three-volume set edited by Solomon H. Katz, is a major scholarly work providing a comprehensive discussion of food from prehistory to 2003 from an anthropological, archaeological, economical, and historical perspective. Some 300 contributors write about the consumption, nutritional value, production, preparation, folklore, and science of food within regions and cultures throughout the world. Religious aspects of food are addressed from a cultural and historical perspective in various signed articles (see for example Baha'i; Buddhism; Christianity; Christmas; Easter; Fasting and Abstinence; Feasts, Festivals and Fasts; Hinduism; Islam; Judaism; Kwanza; Last Supper; Ramadan; Passover; Sin and Food; Religion) but, unlike Food, Feasts, and Faith, religion is not the work's major focus. …

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