A Meal Fit for a King by Stephanie Landsem

Stephanie Landsem-106Stephanie Landsem writes historical fiction because she loves adventure in far-off times and places. In real life, she’s explored ancient ruins, medieval castles, and majestic cathedrals around the world. Stephanie is equally happy at home in Minnesota with her husband, four children, and three fat cats.  When she’s not writing, she’s feeding the ravenous horde, avoiding housework, and dreaming about her next adventure—whether it be in person or on the page.

Stephanie can be found on the following sites:


 A Meal Fit for a King

by Stephanie Landsem

Can you imagine cooking a meal for Jesus?

We think of Martha as the worker, the worrier who was rebuked by Jesus while Mary was content to listen to his teaching. But do you even think of what an honor it would be to cook a meal for Jesus? In my research into biblical life for The Tomb, A Novel of Martha, I had the chance to imagine just that. When Martha is asked to cook a meal for Jesus, this is the menu I imagined her making:

Roasted lamb: Martha would have had one of the boys from the village choose the best lamb for her guest. It would have been butchered and bled according to the Jewish Law, then roasted over a spit for the better part of the day.

Cumin sauce: this is a secret recipe that Martha perfected to serve with lamb or goat meat. Every woman in Bethany tried and failed to duplicate it.

Hot rounds of wheat bread: Martha would have ground the wheat herself and baked it using a sourdough-like leaven, water, and salt.

Onions, fennel and artichoke hearts roasted in olive oil and sprinkled with olives

Spiced peahen eggs on a bed of fresh herbs — peahen eggs were a delicacy and would have been boiled, pealed, and flavored with mustard, dill, or fennel seeds.

Asparagus drizzled with aged vinegar and sprinkled with pepper — pepper would only have been available to the wealthiest villagers, such as Simon, Martha’s betrothed.

At the end of the meal, Martha would have served dates brought in from the caravans from Damascus, perhaps stuffed with ground almonds and honey. For a final touch, she would serve dried fruit—apricots, plums, and figs—steeped in wine and honey flavored with rosemary.

And all during the meal, the guests’ cups would be filled with the best wine from the village vineyard.

Indeed, in The Tomb, Martha has much to worry about. Making a meal for Jesus and his disciples would have taken planning, imagination, and a great deal of work. By the time she served it, she was probably exhausted and perhaps a little angry that Mary wasn’t helping. And yet, even in the midst of Martha’s serving, Jesus words ring true for her and for us all, “There is need for only one thing.”

More about The Tomb, A Novel of Martha:

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.”

In this captivating retelling of a classic biblical story, Jesus shocks the town of Bethany with Lazarus’s resurrection from the dead, leading Martha—a seemingly perfect woman trapped by the secrets of her past—to hope and a new life.

Everyone in Bethany admires Martha—the perfect Jewish woman. She feeds and clothes her loved ones, looks after the family farm, and meticulously follows every precept of the Pharisees’ strict laws. But Martha is hiding a secret. At her sister’s marriage feast, she gave her heart and her innocence to a young musician who promised to return and marry her, but instead betrayed her love and abandoned her.

Seven years later, only two people in Bethany know of Martha’s secret sin: her brother, Lazarus, and Simon, the righteous Pharisee to whom Martha is betrothed. When Lazarus falls ill, Martha is faced with a choice: send for Jesus to save her dying brother—risking the wrath of Simon who threatens to betray her—or deny Jesus’ healing power and remain trapped in her tomb of secrecy and lies.

Meanwhile, on the shores of Galilee, Isa roams the wilderness, tortured by demons and knowing only that someone is waiting for him. When he is healed by Jesus, he finds that seven years have passed since his descent into madness. Isa journeys home to Bethany, only to find he is too late to win back Martha’s love.

When Martha risks all to heal Lazarus, will Jesus arrive in time, or will he—like Isa—come too late?

Stephanie is hosting a blog tour giveaway from March 17th through April 1st. The prizes are $100, $50, and $25 Amazon Gift cards and ten olive wood pocket crosses from Bethlehem. http://stephanielandsem.com/2015/02/blog-tour-giveaway/


Thanks for joining us, Stephanie.


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8 thoughts on “A Meal Fit for a King by Stephanie Landsem

  1. Thanks for having me on your blog, Ginger. It was fun to write about food, one of my favorite topics! Thanks for sharing The Tomb with your readers 🙂

    1. My pleasure, Stephanie. I enjoyed your post. It made my mouth water just thinking about it.

  2. I enjoyed reading this post. Very thought provoking. I am looking forward to reading The Living Water Series.

  3. Just curious Stephanie…how did you come up with what might have been served for the meal? Must have taken quite a bit of research, but fun I bet! 🙂 Great post, really enjoyed reading it & imagining eating those very foods!

    1. Yes, I did a lot of research into the foods that were available at that time and place. It’s my favorite part of writing! Then I used my imagination and tested out some ingredients to get an idea of what someone with Martha’s cooking talents might have made for an important feast. It was fun and delicious.

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