Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Something New

April 13, 2013

I have been researching a second book and decided it needed a new diet. The first century Palestinian diet was a fascinating experience and it greatly helped me prepare the book, The Food and Feasts of Jesus. I learned a diet from the time of Jesus could be quite healthy and tasty. This time, I think I want to try a diet made from the foods of both ancient Greece and Rome. There is more written about these two ancient food cultures and the cuisine was not all that much different than the food from the Middle East. This time, I will not have to eat just foods from an ancient kosher menu but will be able to branch out and try new culinary experiences.

This is my thinking. Let me know if you agree that it will be a fascinating six-month experience. In the meantime, do check out the book, The Food and Feasts of Jesus, Inside the World of First-Century Fare:


A Feast for Friends

October 28, 2012

Earlier this week, friends and I prepared a first century feast for sixteen friends. It was a perfect combination of food for the cold weather we have been enjoying here in the high country of Colorado. The main course was a stew with barley and beef ribs. This stew would taste good with herbs and spices like cumin and cilantro, but we used our Middle East spice mix and a lot of fresh dill. Along with the stew, we had asparagus with lemon and thyme, a wonderful salad made with cucumbers, onion, and chick peas.
The appetizers were equally appreciated: olives, pistachios, roasted almonds, and a delicious home made hummus. However, the hit of the evening was the lentils. They turned wonderfully, almost creamy, with onions, carrots, and a lot of garlic. Cumin and dry mustard are my favorite flavorings for lentils.
Dessert was pastries stuffed with figs or apricots and dates with cream cheese. We cheated and enjoyed a little coffee — certainly not very first century — but perfect with the pastries.
Homemade bread was served throughout the meal. The bread was made using the Mediterranean Grain Bread recipe from the book. In fact, all the recipes came from The Food and Feasts of Jesus. But do look for the Mediterranean Grain Bread recipe on-line. Patheos book club posted it on their site. It is a tasty grain bread!
But the true highlight of the evening was the sharing of food and wine – yes there was wine, too – with good friends. Feasting with friends is always a wonderful experience; I think it is just about the best possible way to spend an evening.
Prepare your own feast for friends and enjoy.

Walking in the First Century

July 3, 2012

If you drive around our nation and take the time to exit the interstates, you will see many small and large American farms. The prototypical farm from our past includes a number of buildings, including a house, barn, workshops, storage sheds and a number of other out buildings. This was not the case in the ancient world. For the sake of safety and for connection to the community, most ancient farmers lived in towns. The family farm might be as close as the edge of the village or it might be two or three miles away. Every day the farmer, his sons, and coworkers started their work by walking and ended the day by returning home. Can you imagine walking six miles a day just to go to and from work?

There were exceptions to this practice. Farmers often had storehouses and slept on their land in small structures called tabernacles during harvest times. Wealthy farmers who owned very large parcels often built manor homes on their land. Archaeologists have shown us that these homes were much like miniature villages, with cooks, black smiths, servants, slaves, laborers, shepherds, overseers, accountants, and their families. Still, the land holdings of these farmers were large enough that most of the laborers must have walked long distances to their work.

When first beginning to study first century Palestine, I was impressed by the idea that Jesus and his family and neighbors walked to Jerusalem for annual festivities like Passover. Nazareth is seventy miles from Jerusalem and the road is not flat. No one except military officers and very high ranking political officials would have ridden horses. Even donkeys were reserved for luggage and the richest merchants. Everyone else walked. I estimate that the trip took three days. Let’s see … seventy miles, three days. That is three long days. Just as an experiment, I walked twenty-one miles one day. It took months of training, expensive shoes and socks, and more than one blister. But in a sense, for the average person in the first century, every day was a day of training, except, of course, the Sabbath.

Imagine how fit we would be if we trimmed most fat and all sugar from our diet and then walked six miles a day.

Do check out The Food and Feasts of Jesus; Inside the World of First Century Fare. It should be released almost any day and prerelease copies are still available from most online booksellers.
And in all things, keep the feast.

A Book on First Century Fare

April 29, 2012

April 29, 2012

I know that it has been quite some time since I have posted on this blog.  Quite frankly, my writing energies have been focused somewhere else.  With my friend, Joel Pugh, I have finished my book on first century food: The Food and Feasts of Jesus; Inside the World of First Century Fare.  The book is being published by Rowman and Littlefield and will be released on July 16.  Pre-release copies are already available, at discounted prices, on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  For those still checking this blog, I hope you are able to get a copy of the book.  It contains fascinating information and lots of my first century recipes.

In all you do, keep the feast.


August 27, 2009

My name is Douglas Neel and I am an Episcopal priest.  My family and live in Colorado, in a beautiful little town in the mountains called Pagosa Springs.  I have to say that I am intrigued by the way people lived at the time of Jesus.  I am especially curious about the way they ate and the impact their diets had on their lives and health.  For me, the pertinent question is not what would Jesus eat (today), but what and how did Jesus actually eat way back in the first century.

Several years ago, a friend – Joel Pugh – and I started researching and cooking with the intent of writing a book on first century food and feasts.  Joel is a businessman who is intensely interested in wine and bread making and in such eoteric things as first century economics.  I supplemented our research by starting a catering company that specialized in reenacting biblical feasts.  We wanted to actually test our research on groups in and around the city of Dallas.   We suspected our families were growing tired of chickpeas and lamb.  Joel still lives in Dallas.  I am now a mountain priest.

My goal with this blog is to chronicle my attempt to live on a first century diet for six months.  I want to find out for myself how healthy or unhealthy the first century lifestyle was.  I want to experience a diet that is high in whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables.  This is the food Jesus ate.  I know that I’ll have to give up such things as TV dinners, (no great loss), enchiladas, coffee, tea, sugar, tomatoes, and high fructise corn syrup. 

I plan to start in earnest on September 15, 2009 though I will actually begin the diet on September 1.  My first century pantry needs to be stocked and I have two engagements, one that includes home cooked Thai food that I must first fulfill.  Plus I have scheduled a visit with my doctor, just to make sure that I have his approval to proceed.