Changing Culture Through The Culinary Arts
Food is a powerful communicator of honor, reward, and celebration in our personal lives and culture.
Many of us are familiar with Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages, which includes touch, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, and quality time.
My husband, Kevin, came up with a 6th language — food.
Our vacations are planned around world-class restaurants, just as much as the accommodation, sightseeing, and recreational opportunities.
God has wired us all differently to enjoy various types of food.
Everyone who knows me well knows that I am a very clean eater, yet I always, and I mean always, find healthy desserts that I can enjoy.
One of my favorite deserts is “Merry’s Tarts”, sweetened only with maple syrup.
It doesn’t matter where we go; Kevin knows that I am going to make a stop at Whole Foods to get my healthy desert.
Like the scene in the movie Patch Adams, when the woman swam in the pool of spaghetti as a last wish, so too, many of us are wired to experience life through food.
Culinary Arts Create Lasting Life Experiences
Many of our fondest memories are centered around food, whether it is a holiday feast with family and friends, birthday dinner, romantic getaway at a fine dining restaurant, or a “hole-in-the-wall” diner that offered “to-die-for” food.
As a child, I remember the smell of breakfast as I came down the stairs each morning, and the smell of my mother’s cinnamon rolls just out of the oven.
On Thanksgiving Day, I remember the aroma of the turkey wafting through the house as my Dad and brothers watched football, eating potato chips dipped in French onion sour cream.
We enjoy the smell of our favorite coffee, tea, or hot chocolate on a cold winter’s day, or the fragrance of fresh lemons being squeezed into homemade lemonade during the summer.
Even the presentation of our food impacts the way we enjoy the experience of eating.
When amazing food is brought to the table it is often met with, “Ooh’s and Awe’s” by the recipients. Even if it is not your food, it is tempting to stare at the delectable appetizers and entrees being served at the next table over.
Maybe that’s why the Bible encourages us to, “Taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8)”.
The Culinary Arts play a much larger role in our life experience than we may be aware of.
It only makes sense, then, that if we want to impact culture, even transform culture, we may have a better chance demonstrating the Good News through the “signs and wonders” of food, as well as our preaching.
Culinary Arts Represent Culture
In every culture, various types of food are celebrated in the way in which they are prepared and presented.
My husband and I love going to Luau’s where everyone gathers around to see the pig unearthed from the embedded coals, and eating to the music and dancing of the Hawaiian culture while enjoying the light aromatic breeze of a star filled night.
We always look forward to visiting sushi restaurants where chefs meticulously slice fresh Ahi and Salmon as if they were performing a creative dance.
We relish (pun intended) dining at Mexican cuisines where Mariachi musicians tour the tables augmenting the peppery spices with songs of celebration.
We love the romantic atmosphere of an Italian restaurant, as love songs are served along with the smell of garlic to our secluded candlelit table.
Food symbolizes the beauty and life of a particular culture.
Why should it be any different for the Kingdom of God?
In Nehemiah 8, the people were instructed to reflect the joy of their salvation by enjoying choice food and sweet drinks (v. 10).
Moreover, they were to send some to people who could not make the party, which may be the first example of the “take out” dining experience.
That’s when the party began:
Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them (v. 12).
If we want to truly represent the Good News of the Kingdom of God, then we must invite people into culinary experiences that communicate God’s goodness, and the characteristics of His nature in the food we present.
Culinary Arts Is God’s Idea Of Creativity
When God made the world, and everything in it, including food, He declared that it was good (Genesis 1-3).
Food is part of God’s creation, and therefore, is part of creativity.
All throughout Israel’s history feasts commemorated past revelations, God encounters, and victories over their enemies.
Weddings, births, and breakthroughs were all celebrated with food.
Even worship included meals that were specifically created for the occasion.
Jesus attended a lot of events centered around food, including the Last Supper.
All of us are looking forward to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, where we will celebrate with the choicest of food and sweet drinks.
I’m sure God has His culinary angels working on the menu right now, along with the musicians, singers, dancers, and artists preparing their creative expressions to wow us with an incredible dining experience.
When we pray for Heaven to come to earth, as Jesus taught (Matthew 6:10), why would that not include the culinary arts?
Unfortunately, many of us grew up in Christian circles where excellence in food was considered a “worldly” endeavor, opposed to a spiritual expression.
This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Why did the Israelites, and even New Testament Christians, fast if food wasn’t so important to them that it was a sacrifice to give up?
Many of us grew up believing that the sole purpose of food is to sustain our life, and that enjoying the quality of the culinary experience is a sinful pursuit.
The Bible is clear: God has given us everything, including food, for our enjoyment (1 Timothy 6:17)”.
Excellent food is a gift that communicates God’s goodness to us in ways that we can relate to.
When the Queen of Sheba came to visit him Solomon, she was convinced of Solomon’s wisdom from God because of the food and the presentation (1 Kings 10:4).
Excellence in the culinary arts was a mark of God’s favor on Solomon’s life.
Like the Queen of Sheba, there are people just waiting to taste and see the Good News of the Kingdom of God expressed through culinary arts.
Changing Culture Through Culinary Arts
There was a woman from the Philippines who had received her degree in nursing, only to find out that there weren’t any jobs available, and that her degree did not transfer to other countries.
She eventually landed a live-in housekeeping job in Dubai, working for an atheistic, wealthy, English couple, which had just moved there.
After the first week, the cook unexpectedly quit.
When she was asked to cook the evening meal, she didn’t want to tell them that all she had ever cooked were rice, beans, and fish with no spices for fear of losing her job.
So, she asked the Holy Spirit to show her how to cook.
She threw in this spice, and that herb, not knowing what she was doing, but trusting that God would lead her into all “truth”.
When she brought the meal out to the couple, she went back to the kitchen to hide.
After a few minutes, the service bell rang, summoning here to the dining room.
As she sheepishly approached the table, fearing the worse, they asked her how about the ingredients of the meal, and how she came about the recipe.
Embarrassed, she explained that this was her first attempt at real cooking, and that she had asked God to help her.
They proceeded to tell her it was the best meal they had ever had, and immediately promoted her as their chef, which included doubling her salary!
A few years later, the couple had children, and she was asked to be their Nanny and chef.
She eventually led both children to the Lord, as well as the atheistic couple, and now the son is a missionary in China.
We can change the world one bite at a time.
The culinary arts can lead to influence in people’s lives, as we partner with the Holy Spirit to come up with recipes that ignite the taste buds in the hungry.
Let’s Get Cooking!
My husband and I love to create healthy meals together. We study recipes, and figure out how to enhance them to our liking.
We enjoy listening to the specific music of the corresponding culture, as we prepare a particular meal, and then create creative questions for discussion around the table while we eat.
We make it a culinary experience filled with creativity, connection, and joy!
Whether your 6th love language is food, or whether you are a dessert queen like me, I want to encourage you to think about how you can make your next meal an encounter for people to connect with God and each other.
I hope that you enjoyed this blog, and that your culinary creations will create memories that will last a lifetime.