Rev. Jennifer Martin, pastor of Central Presbyterian Church in Eugene, Oregon, spent three months in 2023 on sabbatical traveling in Portugal and Spain with her spouse.

Before the trip, someone gave her a prayer for travel from Every Moment Holy: New Liturgies for Daily Life, which encouraged her to “linger long at tables and drink deeply of one another’s company.” As Jennifer and her spouse explored the theme of A Return to the Table, they did indeed linger and enjoy company.

“The joy of dining in restaurants, cafes, homes, and cooking classes with folks from all over meant we slowed down and had the opportunity to listen and learn a bit about one another – our likes and dislikes, our experiences and dreams, our joys and struggles. We laughed and sometimes cried,” she remarked to her congregation.

“The scriptures about Christ being present where two or three are gathered, and being revealed in the breaking of bread seemed all too real on more than one occasion.”

Since returning to her pastoral duties in July, Jennifer has hosted several small-group cooking lessons to share her adventures abroad with others. During each class, she teaches participants how to cook dishes that she experienced on her trip.

She relates a story about each, including where they encountered it and what she learned about its tradition or history. The class participants make enough to share so that everyone gets to taste the new dishes.

In one class, the focus was on Portuguese desserts. Some participants made biscoitos (cookies), while others made pasteis de nata (Portuguese custard tarts). Another class featured Spanish tapas (small plates).

These delightful afternoons feature quality time with Pastor Jennifer, fellowship with members of the congregation, and delicious handmade food.

Make your own pasteis de nata following Jennifer’s recipe.