Sunday, October 17, 2021

It all started, innocently enough, with a meal

And so, in my quest for legitimacy, I knew I had to betray my brother. I had to fool my father. What I failed to predict was the formation of a hole in my life. How could I expect loneliness. 

I underestimated its weight. To my astonishment, it grows heavier and more burdensome now, with every passing year. 

It all started, innocently enough, with a meal. A real meal, I mean, made with a fresh kill over a roaring fire, under the open sky—not one that is made with stored, half-cooked cuts of meat and reheated, somehow, in a stuffy restaurant kitchen, the likes of which can be found down over there, along the inhabited, coastal regions of Canaan, near the city of Ashdod. Luckily none of those establishments can be found here, at the frontier of this desert, which is where our camp is set. 

Don’t let them fool you. Anyone can barbecue a steak—but really, cooking a stew is another matter altogether. The pot must be simmering for several hours. And so, from time to time you must drizzle in some water, which in this wasteland is nearly impossible to come by. Most wells around here are bone-dry, or else fiercely guarded, and rarely shared by other tribes. 

Next you must find a well-trained chef. So let me assure you, son: There is no soul in the entire world, or at least in these parts, in Canaan, with a better nose than mine. Yankle’s nose—no one comes close! 

When I sprinkle my secret blend of spices—here, take a sniff, can you smell it? When I chop these mouthwatering sun-dried tomatoes, add a few cloves of garlic for good measure, and let it all sizzle with lentils and meat—it becomes so scrumptious, so lip-smacking, finger-licking, melt-in-your-mouth good!

There is a certain ratio of flavors, a balance that creates a feast for the tongue and a delight for the mind. And having mastered that balance, with a pinch of imported cumin from the north of Persia, a dash of saffron from the south of Egypt, I can tell you one thing: when the pot comes to a full bubbling point, and the aroma of the stew rises up in the air—it would make you dribble! Drive you to madness! For a single bite, you would sell your brother, if only you had one!  

Uvi’s narrative immediately reminded me of the puzzlement I have experienced when reading this biblical account—wondering why the conniving and deceit of Isaac’s wife Rebecca and the second-born of his twins, Jacob, were somehow presented as admirable. In Uvi’s beautifully written retelling of the story, set in modern times but still in a nomadic, patriarchal community of desert dwellers, Uvi suggests that even in the most blessed of families, husbands and wives, fathers and sons, and brothers and brothers are often left to work through the weakness, greed, and deceits of their humanity while surrounded by “the silence of God.”
The audio narration by David Kudler only adds to the poetic quality of this captivating and beautifully presented tale. 
~Ereader, Audible listener

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