The Power of Food
A few years ago I travelled to Israel and toured the country with a group of other journalists. On our second day in Jerusalem, we visited Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum that pays homage to the millions of Jews killed throughout Europe and other countries. I cried my way through the whole museum.
After that, we headed to the Old City where we learned about the ancient struggle for control of the Temple Mount by the Jews, Muslims, and Christians. My head swirled with confusion over all of these battles— ancient and modern—that have been fought in and over the Holy Land and its people. As I sat in the rooftop lounge of our hotel overlooking Jerusalem, the sun setting and casting purple hues across the city, I wondered, how is peace even possible here in this lifetime? What a futile fight it is.
I sat alone with my journal, writing and weeping over God's people in that contentious land.
Shortly afterward, the group I was travelling with boarded a bus for dinner. When we entered Eucalyptus, I knew we were on sacred ground. The atmosphere in the restaurant felt surprisingly peaceful— exactly what I needed after feeling so much strife in my soul that day.
The host seated us around a large round table, a setting that invited conversation. Course after course of Israeli delicacies arrived at our table, each based on dishes mentioned in the Bible. With a rooftop garden of indigenous plants from throughout the Judean Hills—hyssop, figs, khubeiza— and even Esau and Jacob's red lentil stew, Chef Basson created a dining experience that was sublime in the truest sense of the word. For a special treat, he brought out an enormous pan of couscous. After a theatrical presentation, he explained to our group how his son, Ronny, holds the world title for couscous. The Bassons have earned a reputation for their excellence in food, and they've found creative ways to use food to cross international borders where they might not be welcome otherwise.
Chef Basson explained that the table where we were seated is where chefs from surrounding lands—Palestine, Libya, Jordan, and Syria—gather to share recipes and foods that represent their nations. While sharing a meal together may not bring about world peace, it can at least offer a helping of it. By sharing recipes from their homeland, each chef shares the pride of his nation and showcases the unique flavor of his country. They grow in their appreciation of each other as they savor the riches their neighbors bring to the table.