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

TURIN — 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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