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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Book of the All Virtuous Wisdom of Jesus Ben-Sriracha

A cache of ancient Jewish scrolls recently discovered in southern Egypt is creating an excited buzz among scholarly circles.  Among the newly discovered texts is a fragmentary copy of a 3rd century CE translation of the 2nd century BCE work, The Wisdom of Ben-Sriracha.  Though quoted in several other existing works, this is the first copy of Ben-Sriracha’s writing to come to light. 

Included here is the initial translation provided by Dr. P.L. Tarrec.

The Prologue

Whereas many great flavors have been given to us through the chefs and the gourmets and the other epicureans that followed, and since it is necessary not only that the diners themselves should acquire understanding but also that those who love delicious things should be able to help by preparing and tasting new foods, my grandfather Jesus, after devoting himself especially to the tasting of great foods, and after acquiring considerable proficiency in preparing them, was himself also led to write something pertaining to the proper preparation, in order that, by becoming conversant with this also, those who love spices should make even greater and more appetizing dishes.

When I came to the coastal city of Si Racha in my thirty-eighth year and stayed for some time, I found little opportunity to enjoy food of great flavor. It seemed highly necessary that I should myself devote some pains and labor to the preparation of a new sauce, to bring delight to the tongue and tears to the eye.

In Praise of Spices

All spice comes from the Lord
    and is with him forever.
The tang of the garlic, the bite of the vinegar,
    who can taste them?
The sweetness of allspice, the burn of the pepper,
    what tongue can know them all?
Spice was created before all things,
    and their flavors from eternity.
There is a flavor that is to be prized, greatly to be feared,
    […] .
The Lord himself created the sun ripene[d] chilies;
    he saw them and apportioned them;
    he poured their sauce out upon all his favorite foods.


The manuscript fragment ends here.  


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