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Seasoning Life

What spice of life makes
it worth living in this world? Not long ago I purchased a few spices
to replace old spices thrown out during our recent move. A visiting
grandson suggested an unusual spice to use, our daughter bought two
spices she declared were good and I should have – Roasted Ground
Ginger and Smoked Paprika. Our son’s wife purchases spices at a
local store in bulk and shares with me. Yes, we have spices.
Spices remind me of the
scent of baking gingerbread Mom made when I was growing up. I recall
the cinnamon-scented pumpkin pie Grandma Suderman made for Sunday
breakfast, when I was 7 years old. My father-in-law’s dependence on
the salt shaker during meal time was linked to his motto – “I salt
on suspicion!” How would food taste if there were no seasonings?
Once I tried pureed baby food with no spices. Bland with a capital
“B”!
Mother often boiled
cabbage for a meal. Several times she let it boil to a light brown
consistency – well – she burned it. When she added butter, salt
and pepper, we could eat it. Once she asked what we wanted to eat,
and she was a bit chagrined when we said in unison, “Burnt
Cabbage!” Even when a food is beyond redemption, seasoning can
make the difference, unless you don’t like cooked asparagus that you
hide under your plate. Food or life without any seasonings is dull.
Once upon a time there
were no little cans or jars of spices available on the grocery shelf
for just a small amount of money. There were only open air markets
with vegetables, fruit and meat and no ‘processed foods’ with small
print with its chemicals to enhance taste or preserve its salability.
A few centuries ago spices caused wars, motivated elaborate trade
routes and monopolies to trade and sell spices were formed. They
were used for medicinal purposes, for coloring cloth and for rituals
and worship.
Here
are some spicy tidbits about seasoning:
Saffron – used
to dye clothing, to bathe in and as a yummy seasoning. Alexander the
Great used saffron in his rice and also in his bath to treat battle
wounds. During the Black Plague, Saffron was sold as a medicine to
treat illness, a 14-week long “Saffron War” broke out when a
shipment was stolen,.
Nutmeg – comes
from a tropical tree in the Molucca Islands of Indonesia. Arab spice
traders were the first to find this spice. Then Portuguese captured
natives to show them where the spices grew but they fought back.
Then the Dutch and English led a bloody battle over the Island’s
spices. The Dutch won after massacring numbers of the natives.
During Napoleon’s reign, the English took over the islands.
Salt – one of
the world’s oldest food preservatives that date back to Neolithic
people extracting salt from salty spring water in 6050 B.C. From the
Latin word, “salarium” was used to describe the money paid to
Roman soldiers toward their purchase of salt. Poland, in the 16th
century, was a mighty empire, but destroyed when Germans manufactured
sea salt. Mahatma Gandhi led over 100,000 people in protest of the
British rule against making their own salt from the sea, as it
allowed people to avoid paying salt tax. This disobedience made
international headlines and led to the fight for Indian independence
from British Rule.
Pepper – native
to South Asia, was used in Indian food since 2000 B/C. Peppercorns
were found in the nostrils of Ramesses II in his tomb, used as part
of the mummification rituals from around 1200 B.C. When trade routes
connected India to the rest of the world, pepper was known as ‘black
gold’ for its high prices, and in some areas, peppercorns were used
as a form of currency. Pepper was so important to Europeans, it
changed the course of world history and led the Portuguese to
discover a faster sea route to India during the age of discovery.
Cinnamon
Considered the World’s most
popular spices, came from China 5000 years ago, to the Egyptians and
the Romans up to modern Europe. It is treasured for its taste and
medicinal uses. It is native to Sri Lanka (ancient Ceylon) from a
laurel tree. It is found now in India, Vietnam, Brazil, West Indies
and Egypt, and more, and comes from the C. Zeylanicum tree, and today
the C Cassia tree. It was used to burn during Roman funerals.
Egyptians drank it, and it was used for medicinal purposes and
mentioned in Chinese botanical books, 2700 BC, as a healing herb.
From
the book, Mennonite Foods
& Folkways from South Russia

by Norma Jost Voth, I find that my ancestors used many spices. Many
of the recipes come from Russia, around the Black Sea. Some of the
recipes came from Holland or Prussia. A listing in the back of the
book lists the spices used. Allspice, Anise Oil (China), Bay leaf
(Laurel tree), Cardamon (Scandinavia), Caraway (Switzerland), Chili
Peppers, Cinnamon (China), Cloves, Cumin (Egypt, Dill (Southeastern
Europe), Ginger (Egyptians), Mustard (China), Nutmeg, Onion, Parsley,
Peppercorns (Equator countries), Saffron (costly), and Salt (rock
salt without additives). I wonder when our ancestors migrated to
this country in the late 1800’s, if they brought spices with them, or
wondered where they would be able to find them again.
The Bible mentions Aloe,
Balsam, Cassia, Cinnamon, Henna, Frankincense, Myrrh and Saffron to
be used in cooking, oils, incense, perfumes and ceremonial purposes.
Spices were considered a luxury since many were imported from far
away as India, Asia, Persia, Arabia and Egypt. God created these
spices to give us more than bland food. God, the Lord of universe,
who loves us. Who is this God Whose very being watches over us with
love and plans for us, even to the food we eat. Though we use a
world of words, we can never find enough to praise Him, who gives us
not only life on this earth, but sent His only begotten son to be the
sacrificial lamb for our sins. In this age of cynicism, disbelief
and rebellion we trust in Him.
We are concerned with
feeding our bodies, delighting the palate and always looking for a
new restaurant or comfort food. But there is another part of us,
‘made in the image’ of God that also needs nourishment even more. It
is the part of us, our heart, that we give to our Lord. He lives and
teaches the seasoning of life that gives us delight and joy. As we
see Him through His words, we become His even more…and we live for
Him. He is our comforter, our all in all.
The same characteristics,
or attributes, that describe our Lord God can be ours as we learn
more about Who He is through His Word and Whose we are – not our
own, but His. Imagine what this world would be without the qualities
of integrity, compassion or caring. Those qualities in people are to
be treasured and preserved and remembered.
You were taught, with
regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is
being corrupted by its deceitful desires;
to be made new in
the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be
like God in true righteousness and holiness
. Ephesians 4:22-24
Now it is God who
makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his
seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a
deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
II Corinthians 1:21-22
What are the qualities,
the attributes, that will make our life become exciting, a life that
is filled with heavenly flavoring, a life of expectant living. It
isn’t just a salt-and-pepper life, but one that has an array of nine
seasonings that provide fulfillment and anticipation of the best to
come.
But the fruit of the
Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there
is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh
with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us
keep in step with the Spirit.
Galatians 5:23-25
Amen and Amen!

Comments? eacombs@att.net

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