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Local priest writes book on ‘The Food and Feasts of Jesus’

Those of you who have had the pleasure of listening to Father Douglas Neel preach a sermon at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church or have chatted with him one-on-one in a social setting are familiar with his wit and wisdom. So it’s no surprise that his book “The Food and Feasts of Jesus,” published this week, reflects both his writing talent and his appreciation of history — plus an endearing love of food and fellowship.

It is clear from the tone and tempo of this book that Doug and co-author Joel Pugh greatly enjoyed themselves as they researched and wrote it. You should be prepared for the same fun experience as you read. Fair warning: Expect to get thirsty and hungry as you learn about all the food and feasts and peruse the multiple recipes at the end of most of the chapters.

The author tell us that this is not a book for scholars. Rather, it is written for ordinary people who want to study, taste and experience the culture of the 1st Century Holy Land. The chapters are built around the kinds of meals that Jesus ate, from celebrations and banquets to everyday meals. The hope is that you will be inspired to use the recipes to prepare feasts for your family and friends, church or community groups.

As you learn about the culture and purpose of the events covered in each chapter, you’re taught what ingredients and utensils were available back then and given appropriate recipes. Basics like bread, yogurt, cheese, hummus, soups and salads. More complex dishes like marinated goat cheese, brined olives, date or fig cake, and lamb wrapped in grape leaves. Roasted chickpeas and grilled tilapia for picnics at the beach. Wine and wedding cake for the most significant event of all, the wedding feast that was a weeklong happening.

Always there are stories of ordinary people growing and storing food primarily for their own use — and for sharing with needy neighbors. And there are insights into history, such as the fact that the Forbidden Fruit may have been an apricot rather than an apple. This is much more than a cookbook. It is a reflection of 1st Century Mediterranean life written in an inviting, storytelling style.

This interest in food from Jesus’ time is not just an academic exercise for Doug. He previously owned a Dallas-based catering company which specialized in replicating 1st Century meals. He tested all these recipes with the help of friends, his wife, Sally, and their son, Robert (although Robert occasionally yearned for pizza). Living today in Pagosa Springs, Doug makes his own cheese, wine and beer.

“The Food and Feasts of Jesus” is available at the Sisson Library. You can purchase your own copy at And watch for Doug’s appearance on Oct. 25 as part of this coming fall’s Lifelong Learning lecture series with a talk, a book signing, and maybe even a taste of the delicious recipes included in his book.

Mysteries and thrillers

“The Risk Agent” by Ridley Pearson is the first book in a new international thriller series, this one set in China. “Gone Missing” by Linda Castillo is the latest in the Amish series, this one set during Rumspringa, the time when Amish teens are allowed to experience life without the rules. “Wicked Business” by Janet Evanovich is the latest in the Lizzy and Diesel mystery series. “Never Tell” by Alafair Burke is a suspense story that begins with the apparent suicide of a privileged New York City teen.

Books on CD

“Bloodline” by James Rollins is the latest in the Sigma Force series, this one about the kidnapping of the President’s pregnant daughter by Somali pirates. “Mortal” by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee is the second in the furturistic Book of Mortals serues. “Wife 22” by Melanie Gideon follows a woman taking part in an anonymous online survey. “Kiss the Dead” by Laurell K. Hamilton is the latest in the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series. “Let Love Find You” by Johanna Lindsey is the tale of a debutante whose family hires an innovative matchmaker. “A Blake of Glory” by Jeff Shaara is an insight look at the Battle of Shiloh.

Large print

“Tuesday’s Child” by Fern Michaels follows a woman after she is exonerated of a murder charge.

“Courageous” by Diana Palmer is a love story featuring a Green Beret in South America. “Heading Out to Wonderful” by Robert Goolrick is a love story featuring a charismatic stranger who comes to a small town in Virginia. “XO” by Jeffery Deaver is the latest in the thriller series featuring agent Kathryn Dance. “Let Love Find You” by Johanna Lindsey is a love story featuring a renowned horse breeder and occasional matchmaker. “Little Night” by Luanne Rice brings two sisters together after a 20-year estrangement. “Spring Fever” by Mary Kay Andrews gives a woman a second chance when the wedding of her former husband is called off. “The Risk Agent” by Ridley Pearson is the first book in a new international thriller series.

Other new novels

“Tangle of Need” by Nalini Singh is a paranormal romance. “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood is a futuristic story that has become one of the most widely read novels of our time. “Five Miles South of Peculiar” by Angela Hunt follows three sisters who retreat back to their small-town childhood home. “A Place in the Country” by Elizabeth Adler is about a newly single mother and her teenage daughter leaving Singapore to make a new life in England.

Biographies and memoirs

“The Rise of Marco Rubio” by Manuel Roig-Franzia is the story of the life of this key politician in the Republican Party by an independent biographer. “An American Son” is the memoir by the Senator himself. “George F. Kennan: An American Life” by Pulitzer Prize winner John Lewis Gaddis is a biography of the most influential Amertican diplomat of the early Cold War. “A Difficult Woman” by Alice Kessler-Harris is a biography of literary icon Lillian Hellman. “My Two Moms” by Zach Wahls explores the lessons learned by the son of a same-sex couple. “Tolstoy: A Russian Life” by Rosamund Bartlett is a biography of the great writer.

Thanks to our donors

Thanks to Sue Diffee for the clever bookmarks she made for our patrons. They were created from paint sample sheets with a red, white and blue bow on top and stars punched in the various paint colors. For books and materials this week, we thank Harris Bynum, Randall Davis, Bamma Laizure, Jim Mathison, Bob Oliver and Jane Reseigh.

Special thanks to Rick and Lynne Stinchfield for their donation that allowed us to landscape our “backyard.” Their generosity means we now have a beautiful space for outdoor programs and reading in the sunshine.

Quotable quote

“Friends are what we women have in addition to, or in lieu of, therapists.” — American author Anna Quindlen in her memoir,“Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake.”


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