Friday, April 18, 2014

2013/2014 Cookbook Choices - God's Bounty

This week, we honor God through various experiences with food.  The Jews celebrated Passover on Monday evening, the start of a week of abstinence from certain grains and leaven.  Christians anticipate Easter Sunday.  My orders for lamb, fish and ham are on their way for our traditional Saturday dinner - which I affectionately call "Easter: Singapore time".  As I explain to my guests, Jesus is technically still in the tomb if we observe Eastern Standard Time but by Singapore timing, He would have already risen.  Thus a reason to celebrate.

A couple of books reflect on God and His role in the food we eat; and the purpose of our meals and fellowship.  In an era where the food industry tries to outwit God through genetically modified means, it is always a welcome respite to remember, especially during a time like this week, the bounty that God

"God's Cook Book: Tracing the Culinary Traditions of the Levant" by Jamie d'Antioc explores the influence of the three major religions on our culinary traditions.  We may assume the obvious ingredients - fish, bread and lamb.  But we may also recall others that were mentioned in the bible - vinegar, mustard seed and barley.  Because of the increasing popularity of Mediterranean food in particular, the use of many of these ingredients seem so normal to us.  These were also mentioned in the Old Testament.  For example, coriander was referenced to in Numbers 11:7 and Exodus 16:31 and cilantro (the leafy derivative of coriander) was sometimes included among the bitter herbs for a Passover seder.  d'Antioc describes specific ingredients and their references in Jewish, Christian or Islamic text.  Then he lists a recipe relevant to the ingredient.

"Come to the Table: Food, Fellowship, and a Celebration of God's Bounty" by Benita Long,  inserts biblical verses and anecdotes to reaffirm the reasons for coming together for meals. The chapters include 'Family Gatherings', 'Four Small Group Dinners', 'Magnificent Table Prayers', along with suggested recipes for each of these occasions.

As I sit here writing, I'm wondering how to fill today with activities for my children because there is no school.  Yet I forget, sometimes, it is more wonderful to sit still and contemplate on all that God does for us each and every day.  Happy Easter.

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