Once upon a time, in the lovely land of Az, there was an ancient chef named Drazaw who was several hundred years old. He came from a long line of chefs, but no one knew much about him other than that he made amazing food. At least there were quite a lot of people who loved his culinary masterpieces. He used mainly cabbage and potatoes, but with careful seasonings like caraway and rosemary, along with traditional methods of baking, braising and boiling, his dishes fairly sang with deliciousness.

Among his regulars, there were great orators who would wax eloquent about the virtues and supremacy of Drazaw’s daily chef d’oeuvre. He became somewhat of an icon in those parts with patrons traveling from afar to experience a meal at his inn. Sadly, however, Drazaw was largely unaware of the accolades as he was totally deaf.

One day, much to the dismay of Drazaw’s loyal clientele, a new restaurant opened across town. The chef was a kind young woman who was very skilled in the culinary arts, at least according to some reports. She used some formerly unfamiliar ingredients like quinoa and quince. Coupling unexpected seasonings such as za’atar and fennel, along with innovative methods of molecular gastronomy, she produced dishes designed to appeal to all the senses. Some thought her quite a pioneer in the world of viand science.

All was not well in the land of Az, however. Some of the townspeople became alarmed about the new restaurant and feared for Drazaw’s business and reputation. They had never heard of quinoa and quince. Maybe it was dangerous, or worse, aphrodisiac! “Where might that lead?” they whispered.

In the meantime, the regulars at the new restaurant fell in love not only with the gastronomical delights prepared for them, but the entire experience they enjoyed while dining. There were reports that sometimes clients would even dance during dinner, fueling the animosity that was growing among some of Drazaw’s devoted patrons. They began writing letters to the mayor calling for him to shut down the new restaurant, which they considered immoral.

It came to a head during a city council meeting early one spring. Harsh words flew as the mayor tried to understand just what the issue involved.

“This loose woman is serving quinoa and quince, and we’ve never heard of them. We sent a delegate to try out some of her dishes, and it was terrible. The food was so satisfying…er…sensuous, that even though he hated it, he couldn’t stop eating! We believe this will bring ruin to our town and lower the standards which we have upheld for so long.”

“But,” stammered the mayor, “just because you don’t care for the food she prepares doesn’t mean others aren’t enjoying and being nourished by it, correct? Since when did food become a moral issue?”

But they began to chant, to the tune of a familiar song in those parts, “Tradition! Tradition!” The mayor was befuddled and the council members looked at each other in dismay.

Suddenly, someone pointed toward an open window. As one, all eyes turned to see two figures, Drazaw and his daughter, the kind young chef, on his arm, climbing the hill to their home.

Republished from College View Adventist Church’s eWeekend newsletter, with permission of author/editor Ann Halim.