Of Rich Food, Julie and Julia and the Lord of Hosts

Lael Arrington's picture

Hello readers! I’m new to Tapestry and quite honored to join such a thinking, articulate group. I look forward to exploring the wonder of our God and the richness of what he is up to with other women of influence who are running hard after Jesus.

A friend who saw the summer hit movie Julie and Julia just posted on her blog: “Does it have deep and significant eternal implication? I don’t believe so. Was it entertaining and a sneak peek into the inner sanctum of the writer’s life? Absolutely!”

My thumb is certainly up for a delicious movie that indeed entertains, but I’m not so sure about the lack of “eternal implications.” Maybe there is an overlooked message in the seldom appreciated value of “rich food full of marrow” doused w/ aged wine…ah just smell Julia’s Beef Bourguignon!

Many reviewers and bloggers are haunted by the aroma of Julia’s kitchen, the creaminess of the chocolate, the golden brown glow of the pastry crust. The smiles around candle-lit tables, the magic of friendship and wine mingled together.

And for good reason. I think that at least part of the reason this movie strikes such a deep chord with so many is because we’ve been created to live in a garden of delicious fruit-bearing trees and destined to enjoy rich food in eternity. “On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of …rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined…” [Isa 25:6].

Yet, as with all our God-given desires for good things, the Enemy has co-opted those desires with daily pressures and lesser desires:

No time. We see Julie commuting home late each night to spend hours whipping sauces, molding aspics, knifing ducks…who has the time these days? Even for home-made spaghetti? Rather than our labor-saving technology making more space in our lives to rest or focus on care giving, it seems we use that time to play harder or work longer. Most working women I know would love to have a “wife”—someone whose bubbling pot roast welcomed them home.

Result: We can be starved for the care-giving that rich food affords.

Extraordinary Measures. When we find the time to prepare special meals or treats we can get sucked into the excellence/performance trap—tap dancing like Martha in the kitchen (the ancient Martha) to prepare quite a spread when “only one thing is needed,” the face-time Mary has chosen. Julie’s home life becomes a blur of cooking and blogging that squeezes face-time with her husband. Like Martha her excessive standards of excellence can become the end rather than the flexible means to encourage warm, heart to heart relationship.

Result: We can be starved for the connection that rich food affords.

Don’t touch.  
To read many of today’s fashion mags is to hear a modern adaptation of Colossians 2: "Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch!" Broccoli will make you feel bloated. Bread has too many carbs. Food is only jet fuel to keep your body going. The most important thing about food is how you control it to look good in today’s styles.

Result: We can be…starved.

God “richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” Including, especially…rich food. Enjoying a savory meal was the centerpiece of Old Testament temple worship. If the distance or the size of their tithe made it too difficult for the Israelites to bring their tithes to the temple they were instructed to convert their tithe to money and, when they arrived at the temple, “spend the money for whatever you desire- oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household” (Deut. 14:20). In this case rich food was holy. Sanctified. It was to be brought into the presence of the Lord and enjoyed with him.

Today, when we think of gathering to worship in God’s presence, we think of music and sermons and tiny little cups of grape juice or sips of wine with bite-size wafers. Perhaps the lost practice of breaking bread together in our church services has thinned out our experience of both celebrative worship and heart to heart connection.

But there will again come a time when we celebrate and worship around tables laden with rich food, clinking glasses and laughter. In Desire John Eldredge describes our first celebration of the Kingdom of Heaven—a “great party, the wedding feast of the Lamb. There will be dancing (Jer. 31:13). There is feasting (Isa. 25:6). (Can you imagine what kind of cook God must be?) And there is drinking. At his Last Supper our Bridegroom said he will not drink of “the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes” (Luke 22:18). Then he’ll pop a cork. And the next chapter of the great adventure will begin.”

That ultimate picture of the delight of rich food confirms what I suspect food is really about. At the heart of the all the hunting and gathering and cooking and presenting, what do we really desire? To be nurtured. To savor God’s rich, life-giving gifts in the company of his most precious gifts—people. And the Lord Jesus.  

It is good to eat a juicy nectarine or fresh-grilled fish and savor their every-day richness. Save the cream and butter-rich rich food for special occasions. Part of our desire to be nurtured is to walk away from the table refreshed and restored, not loaded down with sludge and guilt. But it is also good on occasion to sit down with a Crème Brule or a juicy steak and receive it with thanks from the Creator and the cook. Julie and Julia remind us how a table of rich food replenishes far more than proteins, sugars and fatty acids. God’s gift of rich, savory food enjoyed in community restores our hearts, souls and relationships.

What do you think of Julia’s rich food? God’s feast?

Blog Category: