"Do now, do now, what you will wish to have done when your moment comes to die." [St. Angela Merici]

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Well-Seasoned Christian Life



By Micky Wolf



I enjoy cooking and trying new recipes as a great way to expand our menu options.  Also, all the chopping, stirring, measuring and mixing is a way to relax and create something that uses different brain cells.

Any home cook or chef knows the importance of having a good selection of spices and seasonings at hand. From the simplest of green salads to the most complex of rich, layered desserts, the choice of spices and seasonings can be the difference between an okay, ahem dish, or one that engages all the senses with each savory and delicious bite.

Preparing and eating meals has a lot common in with living as a Christian. We don’t have to know much about Jesus to discover his propensity for the dining table as an effective and practical way to connect with people.

A shake of this and a measure of that…

There are about forty (give or take a couple) of spices, herbs, and seasonings mentioned in the Bible. Even if we don’t use most of them on a daily basis, we are familiar with many of them.

Salt

There is probably no seasoning we are more aware of than salt. At the very least, we know Jesus exhorts us ‘to be salt and light’ to a hurting world.

At the same time, is interesting that salt also seems to appear as a most unexpected ingredient in many recipes. Pastries? Sweet desserts? Yes. Why? Because salt accentuates and compliments many other flavors. It adds dimension and depth to chocolate, brightens and intensifies the sweetness of certain fruits, and highlights the smooth textures of sweet cheeses and heavy cream.

No salt—bland. Too much—smothering.  A sprinkle—perfect. Something to remember as a Christian.

Cinnamon

This spice, in varying degrees of reddish brown colors depending upon where it is grown, is considered ‘sweet’. In the proper amount, it enhances the natural qualities of many fruits and grain products.

Cinnamon is also considered an aromatic, which means it appeals to our sense of smell as well. Who hasn’t entered a kitchen or bakery and began salivating as an apple pie bubbled to juicy perfection in the oven?

Like the spice, as Christians it is important to have a healthy aroma--not that we want to smell like a freshly baked pie, but that our attitudes and behavior are warm and inviting.

Garlic

Well, this might be one of those love ‘em or leave ‘em seasonings. There is little doubt when garlic cloves are being minced in tiny pieces to be added to pot of soup, a batch of pesto, or a roasting chicken.

Garlic, a member of the onion family, is pungent and strong. It meets the senses full-on. My beloved and I enjoyed it so much I’m usually careful about when I use it—not everyone appreciates the smell and taste, fresh or cooked.

The sections of a garlic bulb can vary from the thickness of a pencil to closer to the size of an elongated dime or nickel. Get too carried away and it will overwhelm all the other ingredients.

Which is a great reminder for Christians—God sometimes likes to add some ‘oomph’ to a meeting or gathering, yet it’s important to remember to not overdo it.

Mustard

One of the first things we may think of when we consider this spice is when Jesus talks about faith as tiny as mustard seed having the power to move mountains. Hopefully, my cooking doesn’t have that kind of impact on people’s stomachs, but it does say a lot of how a little can be used of God to accomplish great things.

Mustard seeds are often ground into a fine powder, which is then combined with other ingredients to create a multitude of varieties of flavorings suitable for various kinds of meats or vegetables. Grilling recipes often call for brown mustard, spicy mustard, or Dijon mustard.

This mostly yellow-color seed adds warmth and kick.  At the very least, squeezing out a strip of the good stuff alongside a hot dog can bring a smile to the face of the fussiest eater.

In that light, there may be some days when God encourages you to ‘sit and receive the heat’, other occasions when you are to ‘spread it on’. Just remember—you will eventually experience both.

Almond

If there were ever a power-packed gem of good eating, this would be near the top of the list. While the almond is considered a nut, it actually belongs to the rose family. Nutritious and flavorful, it is used in a variety of forms: whole, slivered, chopped, crumbs, or as a liquid extract.

The almond flavor is another of those considered to be sweet, which is why it is often used in many desserts. Noted for being smooth and mellow, it shows up without taking the spotlight. At the same time, you know it is present. What a wonderful concept for most Christians to emulate, eh?

Leek

If ever a flavoring was embraced by the Hebrews, it would be the humble, yet elegant leek. Interestingly enough, it is actually a member of the lily family. Described as a mildly pungent succulent, these delectable plants grow into long, tightly knit layers of onion-like goodness.

Herein, we discover an interesting conundrum. To produce the light green leaves which are the best for cooking, the gardener has to add layers of fine soil around the plants as they mature in order to ensure the maximum of pale leaves. That works—until it is time to harvest them and then each stalk has to be carefully separated and thoroughly washed as the particles of soil have become entrapped between the layers.

Similar to our journey of transformation and formation in becoming the person God has created us to be, we have periodic need for a thorough cleansing of the grit and dirt that soils our soul and spirit.

Vinegar

Ah, what a bad rap this seasoning can have in some circles, and yet it can contribute a tasty zing and zip to a variety of meats and vegetables. Additionally, its preserving qualities have truly been a God-send for many people who do not have access to modern methods of food storage.

We probably most frequently associate vinegar with Jesus and the offering of the gall mixture as he hung on the Cross. Although less known, there is another instance in Scripture of vinegar: At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here and have something to eat; dip your bread in the (vinegar) sauce.” Then as she sat near the harvesters, he handed her some roasted grain and she ate her fill and had some left over. (Ruth 2:14) Vinegar sauce was a common ingredient at the table in those days (and even now) for people living in hot, dry climates as its acidic nature was both refreshing and cooling.

God has truly gifted us with an incredible array of tastes, smells, and flavors. So, which one will you taste and receive today?—or be used of Him to share with another?

Do I have a favorite seasoning? Why?

Are there certain spices I tend to avoid? Why?

How do I feel about the way God chooses to ‘flavor’ my life?

 

No comments:

Post a Comment