Not Just Every Kind of Animal, But Also...
Genesis 6:21 You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.
In my journey of reading through the Bible to find instances when food was mentioned, it was to my great delight and rediscovery that God had also included a specific instruction to take "every kind of food that is to be eaten" into the ark! So, perhaps if I were to make a coloring book of Noah's ark, a new section needs to be included: we have of course 2 of every kind of bird, animal, and creature coming into the ark, Noah's family, and of food crates and trays inside. In a anachronistic way, I can imagine all of the world's cuisine being packaged for storage in the ark: cheese, bread, fruits, vegetables, curry powders, flours, dried meats, and the like. Just as my Sunday school teacher once posited: whatever animal we can enjoy seeing today is because it was saved from the flood; I also posit that whatever food we have today is also because of the life-saving operation in Noah's time! This being said, I have a hunch that God is also a foodie!
On the obvious side of things, we may just understand God's command as a practical reminder to Noah - you brought in the zoo, bring in also the food needed to sustain all the life that is in the ark. What comes to my surprise is that the same adjective (Hebrew mikkal, every kind of) was used for food that was to also be brought in to the ark. In the grand preservation of life, humans (Noah's family), animals, and also the life-giving food was brought in. If I had been in Noah's shoes, this would have been the most heavenly assignment: to go around the known world and bring in every kind of edible food to the ark. Perhaps in some fashion, I see this blog to also fulfill this very purpose where every kind of spiritually-edible food reflection God has in the Bible and culture can be documented and preserved for the coming generations!
Food writer Elizabeth Taviloglu shares a very interesting dish called aşure, which she claims to be the oldest dessert in the world! Here's an excerpt from her recipe page in Spruce Eats:
"Noah's ark pudding, like many Turkish dishes, has its own story behind it. Turkish legend has it that the first version of aşure was made by Noah himself. After weeks on the ark, the waters began to recede. As food stocks dwindled, Noah decided to throw bits of everything he had left on the ark into one pot.
What he got was a delicious pudding that kept him and his passengers well-fed until the ark finally rested on Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey. Some say aşure is the oldest dessert in the world.
In modern Turkish culture, Noah's ark pudding is a symbol of diversity, friendship, and unity. When cooks prepares aşure, they make a lot, as it's customary to distribute bowls of pudding to as many friends and neighbors as possible."
"The Oldest Dessert in the World" Aşure, also spelled as ashura, is a traditional Turkish recipe which includes pomegranates and apricots as a wonderful pudding! It does look very appetizing! A shoutout to our Sunday School Teachers and food enthusiasts: do try this recipe and upload a picture of your attempts! This is a great way to also introduce the story of Noah in the Bible to others!
It is such a joy to find that God does care about us and the food we will be eating. He didn't cryofreeze Noah and just recreate everything that he was to eat after the flood. Every kind of food that was needed was also inside the ark throughout the time that Noah's family was shut in (an experience I'm sure many of us can relate to now with the stay-at-home/work-at-home regimes from the pandemic). The same preserving message that was for the animals and the family was also for the food for the generations to come.
Still, Noah's assignment of bringing in every kind of food must have been a great lesson in Zoology - he also needed to know what food quantities and varieties were needed for the animals on board the ark. For some of us who have the privilege of providing food for our families (or in my case, for my hungry students), we all know how complicated things can get with all the preferences and requirements that come with it.
There was one time when I was preparing food for my Saturday Bible Supper Group, we had ordered flavored French Fries from a shop, I was surprised that our final order had 7 different flavors - we had the fries with Cheddar Cheese, Ranch Buffalo, Sour Cream, Black Pepper, Truffle, Classic Seaweed, BBQ. There were 8 of us that night. To be able to attend to each of the members different taste buds brought a satisfying feeling of being able to pastorally care for all of them. Operating the catering of Noah's Ark for the estimated 370 days they were in the ark for all of the different dietary needs/requirements must have been a magnificent feat.
I ask myself the hypothetical question as well, what if God had just told Noah to simply bring in the animals, and for the food - just bring in what was typical that his family had enjoyed. Perhaps if this had happened, many of what we enjoy today would also have vanished under the waves. Would we have what we have today if not for what was preserved for us? So we indeed, must thank God for all the food we are enjoying today, for He saw it fit to make the ark big enough for Noah, the animals, and the food that will also survive the flood!
In what ways can we also preserve life-giving food for the next generation? What are some ways we can also discover the food needs and preferences of those under our care?
Thank you God for instructing Noah to include the preservation of food for their life and also our life today. Your far-sighted grace indeed has been such a wonderful treat to all of us today! Until next time,