Making beauty out of junk: a metaphor on food

It’s amazing when you are shopping for meat, the case is full of prime cuts people spend top dollar for – from ribeye to Tenderloin. Most people ignore the not so choice cuts of meat, as Bourdain puts it, “the nasty bits!”. Either they don’t know what to do with them or the cuts don’t fit their idea of quality meat. Some of them don’t even look like meat, much less a steak.

A chef looks at those odd rib pieces – tongues, cheeks, knuckles, shanks, even the offal, and we see mass potential – more than with a ribeye, honestly there is only so much you can do with it. It just takes a little love, care and time on the part of chef. Patience is his best attribute during this time. You can’t rush the cooking process or you’ll end up with something like shoe leather. This is the exact opposite of prime cuts, where you want to cook hot and quick.
Beef cheek braised with anise, cinnamon, and cardamon

With our nasty bits that are not uniform or very appealing to the eye, it takes some hot searing heat to build flavor compounds and chemicals that drive the taste buds wild. But, to get the full effect they must also be cooked for long periods of time in liquids. We call this braising. It’s really during this long cooking time the meat really blossoms, growing so juice and tender that even a fork won’t pick it up. You see there are a lot of connective tissues in these meats that make them very tough until the heat and pressure have time to work on them, but when the magic happens you can’t beat the results. More flavor, juicier, tender meats that are so tasty. Their aromas can be smelled throughout the house – calling to every one.

We have had some rough times at the turn of the new year, we were told on new years eve I wasn’t needed as worship leader for a church plant we were at. Then that Sunday the church was told I had chosen to step down to follow my career. If you have read any of my others posts you can tell how we didn’t feel comfortable going back. Where we thought community existed we were left out. I miss some of the people there, but don’t really run into any of them, and it seems like I am not getting anymore responses from any of them.

That day broke our hearts. We got to spend New Years crying into each others arms – just questioning “why God?” We had moved in hope of community and friends, but ended up beaten and wondering if it was worth all the effort.

That Sunday night we drove downtown to Austin Stone, not really sure why. They had a night service, and we just needed to be around other people worshiping. That night we didn’t see a single person we knew. We slipped in with the crowd numbering close to 5000 people for the 5pm service. The music started and we were just bombard on all sides. I’m sure you have been there, when God shows you a glimpse of His glory, and you can’t do anything but just stand and cry. I tried to sing but couldn’t even do that. I am not sure what happened the rest of the night but we both just walked out speechless.

That night was the start of something different. That was the night God reminded us that he was still there. He still loved us. He still had a plan for us.

Since then we have found a new true community, and church that pushes us to our calling from God. I think that is really what community is about. Even though we are being pushed and tested by God to trust him more and more though our current experience, there are people all around the United States coming together to support us and help sustain us. God just looks down and says “trust me I’ll take care of you.”

Looking in back it seems like Elora and I have been under consistent heat and pressure since we started dating, people trying to break us up and get in the way of our marriage. People just attacking our character and what we stand for, and some that just tell us we are not good enough. But I feel if I keep trusting God even when the heat and pressure is on, He will bring us out better and more to his liking.


You know I may not be what the American dream says I should be, I may be a little awkward and stand out in a crowd and never really fit the prime cut idea. Others may have just dismissed me by appearances. Thankfully God looks at me and sees something better, he see the potential hiding in my “nasty bits,” what I could really be. I am glad he is taking the love and care to transform me even if I have to go through some heat and pressure.

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This entry was posted in Cooking, Dreams, Food for Thought, The Church. Bookmark the permalink.

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