food / travel

On God And Grub, A Foodie Reading Of The Bible

Water turned into wine with that?
Water turned into wine with that?
Giacomo Poretti

TURIN â€" From the forbidden apple to Esau's lentils, the Bible offers a divine feast of food-related storytelling.

How should Cronus, the Titan who ate his children, be classified? With the cannibals, or among those with gastroesophageal reflux disease? If you want to know how important it is to eat healthy food, consult the Bible. The Holy Book doesn't narrate exclusively about sophisticated topics. On the contrary, it covers food too. In fact, the Bible is the first and greatest book on food ever written.

Many would be tempted to think that the modern era is solely responsible for the problems and discomforts related to food. As if intolerance, greed, bulimia and other disorders only materialized in the 20th century. It's just not true. Since the birth of humanity, food-related troubles have existed, despite the pleasure of eating.

The Bible is 2,577 pages long, and already on page 5 the human race is ruined because of an apple. Not because of a pot of roast meat with polenta. Just because of an apple, probably a russet. That's why children today struggle to eat fruits and vegetables: They preserve an atavistic memory of when we were in paradise doing nothing, playing football and eating hamburgers with ketchup. So, mothers, don't slap your children when they tell you that fruit is treacherous and hides the devil inside. An apple a day keeps the doctor away? It might be true, but it's better to have high triglycerides rather than work the land sweating.

Think about it: In the Bible, whenever food is the protagonist, men either drive God Almighty mad or fight each other. We had just been freed from Egyptian slavery when new complaints arose: "We were better when it was worse! How tasty was the food at the Pharaoh's table! How good were Falafel and Kebab?" The Almighty, in all his generosity and goodness, made it rain quails and manna from heaven. Way better than the boxes of expired milk and beans dropped by modern rescue airplanes.

Esau and Jacob's rivalry

Not to mention the tricks/scams perpetrated with food. What about Esau and Jacob, the sons of Isaac and Rebekah? To use modern slang, Esau was the chav of the two: full of hair, probably tattooed and with a mohawk on his head, he spent his days setting ants on fire and hunting pheasants. He never caught one. Since he was the first born, he was destined to the inheritance and the blessing of his father.

Photo: Photofunia/Worldcrunch

Jacob was the classy twin, hairless, cultivated enough to have read The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky if it had been written then. In other words, he was the lazy one. Because he was born second, he was destined to spend his life as a sort of Prince Harry, at polo matches and fashion shows but never at the head of the family.

As the Bible tells it, Esau returned home one day very exhausted after spending all night trying to catch a hare. As usual, he failed. He was thirsty and hungry, while his brother was eating a large plate of lentils. "Please brother, can you give me some of those lentils?" The perfidious Jacob handed over the pot but first said, "Sure, but in return I want the whole inheritance." Tattooed/mohawk people tend not to understand anything when they are hungry. Predictably, the answer was, "Of course, bro! Who cares about the blessing: We have a deal."

Many years later, the father, Isaac, was about to die and wanted to bless his elder son and hand him God's promise of a prosperous land. Unfortunately, he wasn't aware that his beloved, tattooed son had given up his birthright many years before. Isaac said to his son, "Take your bow, bring the game home and permit me to eat my favorite dish for the last time. Jugged hare."

Esau, who had never managed to capture anything, not even a snail, took bow and arrow and set off. Mom Rebekah heard everything and decided to warn Jacob, her preferred child. Even if mothers try hard to be fair, they always have their preferences. Rebekah had perfectly understood that having Esau as head of the family would mean going bankrupt after just a few days.

Can you imagine what she suggested to Jacob? "Go! Bring me two kids, and I will cook them myself." Jacob reminded her that Isaac wanted game. "Your father has never understood anything concerning food," she rebutted. "His palate is lined with metal sheet. When he wanted salmon, I gave him plaice and he never noticed the difference." Jacob finally agreed, but said, "But if dad hugs me, he will not feel and smell the stinking hair of Esau." So she told him to wear the hair of the children. That's how Jacob deceived his father and obtained the blessing before the dying man realized the trick.

Noah and wine

It's unbelievable how much people liked to eat and especially drink in the Bible! Like that time when Noah had just invented wine. He liked it so much, he got drunk and fell asleep naked. His youngest son mocked him instead of covering him as the other sons did. This is why he caught Noah's curse. Experts explain that this type of reaction only happens after drinking white wine, which may cause severe headaches upon awakening because of sulfites.

But a new character suddenly appears in the New Testament, a carpenter who behaved like a nutritionist without a degree. He told people that they had to change the type of water they were drinking if they didn't want to be thirsty anymore. Thanks to him, wedding guests never risked running out of wine. He also organized trips to the mountains, attended by 5,000 people. No one was preparing sandwiches, yet he, the nutritionist, insisted on sharing food and drinks and made everyone satisfied just with three fish and two pieces of bread.

But, sadly, it's not easy to find his contact information on the Internet, where notices say that he can only be met in person.

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In Argentina, A Visit To World's Highest Solar Energy Park

With loans and solar panels from China, the massive solar park has been opened a year and is already powering the surrounding areas. Now the Chinese supplier is pushing for an expansion.

960,000 solar panels have been installed at the Cauchari park

Silvia Naishtat

CAUCHARI — Driving across the border with Chile into the northwest Argentine department of Susques, you may spot what looks like a black mass in the distance. Arriving at a 4,000-meter altitude in the municipality of Cauchari, what comes into view instead is an assembly of 960,000 solar panels. It is the world's highest photovoltaic (PV) park, which is also the second biggest solar energy facility in Latin America, after Mexico's Aguascalientes plant.

Spread over 800 hectares in an arid landscape, the Cauchari park has been operating for a year, and has so far turned sunshine into 315 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the local provincial capital of Jujuy through the national grid.

It has also generated some $50 million for the province, which Governor Gerardo Morales has allocated to building 239 schools.

Abundant sunshine, low temperatures

The physicist Martín Albornoz says Cauchari, which means "link to the sun," is exposed to the best solar radiation anywhere. The area has 260 days of sunshine, with no smog and relatively low temperatures, which helps keep the panels in optimal conditions.

Its construction began with a loan of more than $331 million from China's Eximbank, which allowed the purchase of panels made in Shanghai. They arrived in Buenos Aires in 2,500 containers and were later trucked a considerable distance to the site in Cauchari . This was a titanic project that required 1,200 builders and 10-ton cranes, but will save some 780,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year.

It is now run by 60 technicians. Its panels, with a 25-year guarantee, follow the sun's path and are cleaned twice a year. The plant is expected to have a service life of 40 years. Its choice of location was based on power lines traced in the 1990s to export power to Chile, now fed by the park.

Chinese engineers working in an office at the Cauchari park


Chinese want to expand

The plant belongs to the public-sector firm Jemse (Jujuy Energía y Minería), created in 2011 by the province's then governor Eduardo Fellner. Jemse's president, Felipe Albornoz, says that once Chinese credits are repaid in 20 years, Cauchari will earn the province $600 million.

The Argentine Energy ministry must now decide on the park's proposed expansion. The Chinese would pay in $200 million, which will help install 400,000 additional panels and generate enough power for the entire province of Jujuy.

The park's CEO, Guillermo Hoerth, observes that state policies are key to turning Jujuy into a green province. "We must change the production model. The world is rapidly cutting fossil fuel emissions. This is a great opportunity," Hoerth says.

The province's energy chief, Mario Pizarro, says in turn that Susques and three other provincial districts are already self-sufficient with clean energy, and three other districts would soon follow.

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