Pause for Thought – a five minute read – Week 5

Luke 9 v 12-17; Luke 22 v 14-24

I have just been reading a little book of jokes; well it’s more a little book of funny stories published by the ‘Dalesman’ magazine. The stories are predominantly Yorkshire based and rely on a northern sense of humour, but one story particularly struck home to me.

It was a story about a young lady at a railway station after a day shopping. She had purchased a cup of tea from a kiosk and was frantically trying to cool the beverage so she could consume it before her train arrived. She was blowing across the surface of the tea and then taking small sips while having one eye on the incoming trains. An elderly gentleman was sitting close by and took pity on her. He went over to her and said, ‘you will never cool it down like that, here take mine I’ve already poured it into the saucer’.

I think you have to be over a certain age to appreciate the humour, but for me it struck home because that is exactly what my dad used to do. When he had a hot cup of tea, he would pour it into his saucer then lift it up in both hands and drink it from there. It wasn’t a problem when we were at home, but if we were out somewhere ????

My sisters reminded me recently how much dad also liked garden peas, which isn’t unusual, but it was the way he ate them, by stabbing each individual pea with his fork, a technique that took twice as long to eat his meal than everyone else particularly when there was a generous portion of peas on his plate.

I started to think of how our liking for various foods changes as we get older, either because of personal preference or due to changing trends. I can recall my dad and me for that matter, enjoying a slice of bread and dripping. Now, ‘dripping’ is the fat and juices from cooking beef, which are allowed to go cold and spread on to a slice of bread with a sprinkling of salt, and eaten. If you were lucky you got the little black bits in the dripping left from the beef, which were particularly tasty. I wouldn’t eat it now.

Neither would I eat the cold tripe that mum used to serve up for tea on occasions. Once again, for the uninitiated, tripe is the lining of a cows stomach and can be eaten boiled with onions or cold uncooked. We had it cold uncooked with vinegar that filled the honeycombed texture of the tripe, and I have to admit at the time I enjoyed it, but not now.

My grandad, on my dad’s side, was a big tall chap, who always had little to say, he was truly a man of few words, and although we were never close, I do remember visiting him as a young lad at his allotment, where he would pick a small white turnip, wash it in a rainwater barrel, and give it me to eat like holding a lollipop. I think there would be more bacteria on my hands than on the turnip, but only the turnip got washed. He also gave me Rhubarb, stripped off the thin outer skin, dipped into a bag of sugar and I would eat that. I prefer it cooked today in a pie.

But not all things from younger days have been rejected; I still love the skin on top of a rice pudding, especially when Nutmeg has been added to the rice and milk. This is something that you don’t get from tinned rice pudding. I still have a soft spot for tinned sliced peaches with Carnation milk or tinned cream, and for tinned salmon, all of which were in my eyes a treat for Sunday tea.  But I have never liked the skin on top of the custard; dad could have that with pleasure.

I do remember with some satisfaction, a little shop on the outskirts of Bradford that served hot pork pies with mushy peas in a bowl and with a spoon. When it was cold weather and dad and me were working we sometimes went there to warm up and have pie and peas with a spoon, very nice.

We have clues from the Bible as to what foods made up their diets in those times and how they ate them. The Bible mentions a range of foods including; grapes, dates, olives, wheat, bread, fish, beef (oxen), flour, oil, figs, lamb, yeast etc., and many references to eating with their hands. Parts of the Passover meal involved dipping bread in meat juices and eating them with their fingers.

Perhaps this was part of the reasoning behind the Jews infatuation with ceremonial washing before a meal, remember the wedding at Cana the water jars were intended to be washing purposes when Jesus turned the water into wine.  

I think the most important reference to food and eating in the Bible is the Passover meal when Jesus broke the bread and said, this is my body given for you, and then he took the wine and said, this is my blood given for you, then he said, do this in remembrance of me.

Derek T.