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A Very Old New Recipe, THE "EZEKIEL" DIET
Among the hobbies I enjoy is FOOD, and to substitute a noun in Will Rogers' famous saying, "I never met a VEGETABLE I didn't like," or for that matter, hardly any other edible food, animal or mineral, with the notable exception of tripe.  Tripe, as you know, is derived from the inside lining of a cow's stomach, which is where it should stay in my opinion.

This recipe, which is not found in any Methodist Cookbook, or any other cookbook that I know of, although surely someone has discovered it. It is to be found in the fourth chapter of Ezekiel, the ninth verse, and I quote from the King James Version:

"Take thou also wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and fitches; (other translations substitute spelt for fitches), and put them in one vessel, and make the bread there of."

He was to eat about eleven ounces of this concoction per day, and drink less than a quart of water laying on his left side three hundred and ninety days, each day to signify a year that Israel was to suffer both captivity and a shortage of food and water, if the Nation did not straighten up and fly right. His further instruction from the Lord was that this food was to be cooked over human dung (other translations say "human excrement")."

A modern four-letter word conveys the same meaning, which is probably the work Ezekiel used. Ezekiel's response was something like this (loosely translated):

"Lord, I haven't said a word about you laying the Sins of Israel on my aching back, nor the ignominious position you ask me to assume, nor even the scanty and monotonous diet of food and water you are asking me to consume, but if you expect me to use human dung for fuel, you must be out of your cotton- picking mind!"
I refer you to Ezekiel 4:14, King James Version or whatever your favorite translation, and see if the sense of Ezekiel's response wasn't pretty close to my translation. At any rate, whatever remonstration he made, the Lord agreed to it (verse 15) and let him use cow dung instead of human dung for fuel (cow chips, to you), which, after all, was the only fuel other than buffalo chips available to the early settlers in the west.

George Bingham reminisces that he had used cow chips to burn as mosquito repellent, I suppose while camping out, although it might have been before the age of window screens. After all, George did have a recent birthday. 

Oh yes, Ezekiel was also to lay on his right side for forty days, symbolizing the forty years of Judah's tribulations. There was no mention of what diet, but he probably gorged. While I lay no claim to being a Biblical scholar, from my shallow reading of the Book of Ezekiel I tend to think his graphic and verbal prophetic vision of the impending doom of both Israel and Judah was an exercise in futility. Nobody listened or paid attention to him.

I can imagine (can't you?) people walking by day after day, seeing him laying on his left side for some three hundred and ninety consecutive days, subsisting on meager rations, cooking his food over cow chips, asking each other this question,
"Just what is this kook trying to prove?"

And the answer, "Oh, he is some weird religious crackpot trying to tell us our great nation is doomed for destruction unless, in his words, "If we don't turn from our evil ways and pray for God's forgiveness." "What a nut. Doesn't he know we are God's Chosen People; a nation under God, who will not let anything happen to our nation?" 
Well, what goes around comes around, and history is repetitious. If, by some remote chance some modern Ezekiel is trying to warn America of the error of our ways, I imagine our response would be similar (don't you?),
"Just another crackpot; doesn't he know America is a Christian Nation. God will not let anything bad happen to us."
But just maybe there might be one other segment of Ezekiel's long overlooked message we just might be willing to "sink our teeth into" and even digest, and that is what I will call the "Ezekiel Diet." Namely a bare intake of about eight to eleven ounces daily of a mixture of wheat, barley, millet, spelts, beans and lentils, together with one quart daily of drinking water (no mention of bath water).  Usually my thirst for knowledge is easily quenched, but I think this is a subject worth jumping into with both feet, striking while the iron is hot, before the chickens come home to roost and before I get involved with peanuts again. Since all these ingredients are currently being grown or could be grown in Comanche County, the first person that came to my mind was that very delightful, competent, resourceful and knowledgeable Bob Whitney, our County Agent, and my neighbor (who I didn't think was acting very neighborly when he failed to tell me that he had camouflaged a hive of especially trained hunter bees under a bush right next to his fine summer garden).

But on second thought, 
  • the first order of business should be the nutritive value of the "Ezekiel Diet" so naturally I thought of our delightfully lovely young Home Demonstration Agent, Paula Hunter. A wise choice. Not only is she prettier than Bob, but I am certain more knowledgeable in the food department. In a very short time she placed in my hands a more exhaustive, comprehensive analysis of the diet than I have been able to digest. Suffice to say it is high in carbohydrates, high in protein, and having a plentiful supply of many of the essential vitamins needed for human health (others could be cheaply added, if needed), and very low in fat.
  • Next step: where to find the necessary ingredients? Where else but in a health food store - in this case, the Health Food Department of "The Red Store Mall" on the north side of the square in Comanche, all for some 14 dollars (less than $1.00 a day).
  • The next step (the most difficult thus far) was to secure Lucille's enthusiastic endorsement of the project. Her initial response was something close to Ezekiel's as recounted earlier in his answer to the Lord's first cooking fuel suggestion. I told her I felt  that household propane, or even microwave would be acceptable.
  • Next step (UGH) eating the finished product. Actually, it was not all that bad. We took some to our Nannie Little Sunday School Class, and also to the Methodist Men's Supper. Our sales pitch: "If Ezekiel could subsist on this as his sole and soul food for 390 days, the very least you can do is taste it. I did note some lack of enthusiasm. In our first recipe we used soybeans, thinking that it might be closer to the original in that part of the country. In our second recipe, we found pinto beans somewhat more palatable.
  • The next step, which to me was very important, was to ask the question, "Just how long did Ezekiel live after 390 days on this frugal diet? Our good friend, that delightfully knowledgeable Comanche Public Librarian, Margaret Ann Waring, in a very few minutes came up with I suppose the only record of his life, which would indicate he was some fifty-seven years of age (we think) when he quit prophesying.  How long he lived afterwards is anybody's guess? (If he retired on a ministerial pension, he might have had to go back on his Ezekiel Diet; if he got a government pension, he could have lived high on the hog for the rest of a long long life, only being a Jew, he couldn't eat hog.) My own educated guess; if he could and did survive 390 days on what must have been a meager and very bland diet, unless he cheated (as I would have by adding salt and/or any other seasoning available), he should have lived to a very very ripe old age. 
(Incidentally, Margaret Ann suggested the most suitable modern fuel to replace cow chips could have been methane.) Now as to the "meat" of this whole subject, if such a word could be used in reference to a totally vegetarian/cereal diet, let us look at some other possibilities.

  • When you stop to think of the many, many dietary products on today's menu to lose weight, melt away fat, restore that youthful figure (girlish or boyish as the case may be) here just might be a wholly natural, totally nutritious, and a very inexpensive way to reduce weight and keep it off.
  • A monotonous diet? You haven't been listening. Think of the many substitutes in legumes; black beans, red beans, pinto beans, navy, lima, and butter beans, also English peas, black-eyed eyes, purple hulls, and many many more, such as peanuts and peanut oil. You might add some honey or other various condiments, and also onions. It didn't say not to use these things.
  • And just think, while this product could be used in the Western World to slim the obese, the very same product could be used to feed the hungry in third world countries.
  • Also, why couldn't it be a staple diet for prison inmates? A steady Ezekiel Diet might cut down on the crime wave, and cut down on prison overcrowding. The possibilities are endless.
To those of you who might be interested, the original recipe can be found in your Bible, Ezekiel 4:9.
 

Printed in The Messenger magazine, January/February 1997