She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. Proverbs 31:14
So clearly, our Proverbs 31 gal is a foodie! If she were alive and visiting Birmingham this weekend, I would take her to Nabeel’s, Sitar, Bamboo and Mikario, and she would love it all!
What’s the virtue in that, you say? What is noble about eating food that is unfamiliar to your ten-year-old self, the food you grew up with? Isn’t it just a matter of preference? That is one way to look at it, sure. But it’s inclusion in this passage should give us a clue that there might be something admirable about enjoying food from afar.
Travel and the shipping of goods over great distances, or any distance was a good deal harder in the ancient world than it is for us today. It was costly, but it also took a LONG time and was very dangerous. What a luxury to have anything, let alone pershiable food, from far away! And practically speaking, in a time of scarcity or drought, it would be better for the family of the Proverbs 31 woman to have a broad pallet. The verse also says that she brought it to her family like a merchant ship, which suggests she may have even traveled to these places herself!
Before I go on, I have to share my biased heart: I love to travel and I love to try new food and I love to bring back food from my travels. I feel in my heart that there is some virtue attached to embracing the beauty of the world and the people of it simply for the delight of it. You could never convince me that our infinitely creative God does not take great delight in the variety of people he made. To enjoy it with him is to partake of the divine nature.
And as any good traveler will testify, a big part of the delight of travel comes from the intimate sensory experience of eating the food of another people. It might be the first step in walking a mile in their shoes.
From the solo trips I have taken, I can attest that as breathtaking as the view is, as delicious as the coffee is, as heartbreakingly beautiful as the sunset is, the enjoyment is multiplied when it can be shared. This is why we bring gifts when we return from our travels–we want to share and thereby multiply the enjoyment of the trip!
I made a trip to Turkey last year and took great delight in sharing the food I brought back with friends and family: coffee, dried peppers, and of course, Turkish delight! When your people won’t sit still for a slide show, they will almost always eat your chocolate or drink the wine you brought back!
I am so encouraged that the great Bibical example of feminine awesomeness includes among other virtues an appreciation of other cultures and embracing a variety of new foods. How refreshing! I don’t know about you, but the “church lady” ideal I grew up with did not include anything as simulating as this.
Our girl challenges the status quo. She pushes boundaries, and is not afraid of the new recipe being a flop because she knows variety is the spice of life. High-five, P-31 chick! You take dinner to the next level!
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Joni Butler has called the ‘Ham home since 2012. Officially, she’s here for employment but has found a home here at Breath. Though an avid diarist for years, this is her first writing gig. Jesus is her best friend and she loves pursuing Him passionately. You can read more about Joni in her Breath Bio.