Eat like a patriarch

Americans love to eat. Americans love their Bibles.

You got to love a cookbook based on the foods in the Bible. How come no one thought of it sooner?

The Rev. Rayner W. Hesse Jr. and his partner, Anthony Chiffolo, who live in Hartsdale, spent more than three years testing recipes based on what people eat in the Good Book (and how they spiced it). They came up with 13 recipes from the Old Testament and five from the New Testament, all gathered in their new book, “Cooking With the Bible: Biblical Food, Feasts, and Lore.”:

The book has been getting a lot of positive attention. The Los Angeles Times ran a “feature”:,0,977601.story?coll=la-home-headlines about it on page one on Christmas Day. And CBS has bought the rights to develop a television show based on the cookbook.


Hesse is the spiritual leader at St. John’s Episcopal Church in New Rochelle. Chiffolo is editorial director of Praeger Publishers in Westport (which I have to say, in the interest of full disclosure, is publishing a book of mine in a few months).

They’re good guys who have really stumbled on something (on purpose, that is).

Their recipes include: Rice of Beersheba, Rebekah’s Tasty Lamb Stew, Date and Walnut Bread, Ful Madames and Scrambled Eggs, Pistachio Crusted Sole, Bamya, Goat’s Milk and Pomegranate Syrup Torte, Haroset a la Greque, Pesach Black Bread, Watermelon Soup with Ginger and Mint, Date Manna Bread, Oven-baked Perch with Tahini, Braided Challah with Poppy Seeds and Lemon, and Friendship Cake.

The Journal News/ ran a feature about the book on Aug. 30 — the day it came out.

“When we wrote `Cooking With the Bible,’ we went to great lengths to be interfaith,” Hesse said then. “Cooking is a language of its own. Everyone we’ve talked to about the book of every faith and background finds it fascinating.”

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.