KINDS OF MEALS (Part 2 of 3)

  1. Four Kinds of Meals 

There are four basic kinds of meals, although some meals could fall into more than one category, or might mean a different thing to the eater than the server.   The four basic kinds of meals are:

    1. Recreational meals
    2. Nutritional meals
    3. Social meals
    4. Religious meals

i) Recreational Meals 

Recreational meals are the things we eat for fun, for the pleasure they give rather than because they satisfy hunger or because they would nourish the body.  Ice creams, candies, and certain kinds of drinks fall in that category.  A really hungry person doesn’t go to the restaurant to order sweets, unless they have other issues.  In any household, in proper circumstances, a woman does not go into the kitchen to cook candies for breakfast; neither does she serve sodas and chocolates for dinner.  Recreational meals and drinks are taken primarily to entertain the taste buds, even though they might have other secondary values.

ii)  Nutritional Meals 

Nutritional meals are what we eat or drink because we are hungry or thirsty, which in the process fortify or heal the body, for example, a proper breakfast or lunch or dinner.  There are meals and drinks, however, taken more for their medicinal properties than because they satisfy hunger.  I shall still consider such medicinal meals under the broad classification of “nutritional meals,” especially as they ultimately supply nourishment to the body.

While Prophet Elijah fled for his life from wicked Jezebel, he took refuge under a desert tree where he prayed to die.  There, an angel twice served him food and water, saying, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for thee” (1 Kings 19:7).  In other words, the angel said, “Elijah, you still have a long way to go, so you need this food for your NOURISHMENT.”  Elijah got up to eat, and “the food gave him enough STRENGTH to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God” (v.8, New Living Translation).

On one occasion when Jesus multiplied bread and fish to feed His followers, it was so that they would be strengthened on their way back home.  He said,

   I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away HUNGRY, or they may collapse on the way (Matthew 15:32, New International Version).

After Jesus had raised Jairus’ daughter from death, He turned to the parents and “commanded that something should be given her to eat” (Mark 5:43).  He prescribed food, to nourish her back to strength and health; food to sustain the physical life that she had got back by supernatural means.  In their obedience to Dr Jesus’ prescription, the parents would certainly not have served that child recreational meals such as lolly pops chocolates.  In my part of Africa, they might have started her with pap, or hot and spicy “fresh fish pepper soup,” then some rice and beans, or even some ‘solids’ to ‘swallow,’ to ‘hold her body’ very well.

iii)  Social Meals 

Social meals are foods and drinks taken not primarily because we are hungry or sick, but because the meal and the eating of it are part of a social event.  One of Chinua Achebe’s popular Igbo proverbs aptly states, “A man who calls his kinsmen to a feast does not do so to save them from starving.  They all have food in their own homes” (Things Fall apart).

At a wedding or birthday ceremony, for example, foods and drinks are usually served, mainly as a social gesture.  Someone could eat that food hungrily as their lunch or dinner, and it could give them nutrition, but charity and nutrition had not been the primary purpose for the meal.  Another person at the same event, who had eaten to the full before they came to the party, might merely taste a little of the food purely out of courtesy than because they are hungry or because they expect the meal to be a dietary therapy.

In John 2:7-11, Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding.  The purpose of that wine was not the same as when He multiplied bread and fish to feed hungry followers.  When Jesus stepped in with the miracle wine, He saved a family from the social embarrassment of not having refreshment for their honoured guests.  Those guests were going to drink the wine not because they were hungry or thirsty, but as a gesture of the social moment.  In some cultures, to not eat at such moments could convey unpleasant sentiments.

From The Preacher’s diary,
November 24, 2022. 


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