Forget an Oscar Mayer wiener, I wish I was a red bell pepper.
Hubby and I took a cooking class last week. I now know how to pronounce words like bruschetta (and that’s “broo-SKET-a,” like you’re angry) and that goat cheese is one of those yummy, salty surprises. (Herbes de Provence, where have you been all my life?) My classmates and I learned how to hold knives and slice with authority, and not to scrape our blade on the cutting board—especially Chef Gold’s expensive ones. We discovered the accuracy of using a scale instead of a cup to measure flour and the magic of tarts filled with freshly chopped semi-sweet chocolate mixed with heavy cream. We did lots of dicing, smashing, grilling, baking, handwashing, taste-testing, and best of all, grubbing. By the evening’s end I determined that being a chef is another one of those careers great for introverts—kind of like writing: not a true “people person,” our chef was done with us the second the last fork and knife clanked crisscross fashion on our plate.
But my most important takeaway? Nope, not how to properly stir risotto or that the finished product should undulate like a wave and be served immediately. Not finding out that the reason Brown Sugar and M&M inhale milk chocolate is that their taste buds are closer to the front of their mouth and that these sensors move back with age (so, what’s my excuse?). And not even that chefs are as persnickety about kitchen rules as editors are about grammar rules—and as arbitrary about when they break them.
The most important thing I learned that night was about me:
I am a green bell pepper.
Green bell peppers are harvested before they fully ripen. If you wait longer to pick them they’ll turn yellow, then orange, etcetera, etcetera. Green peppers squat on the lowest rungs on the pepper totem pole. And unlike their high-priced sister peppers they’re tangy and bent out of shape.
Just like me.
I get bent out of shape when shoppers take the Lord’s name in vain just because my Lone Ranger bumped into them by the ice cream. My nose gets a little crooked when people step over a homeless person to save a lost dog. I get a mite twisted when folks think that church is somewhere you go rather than something they are. My heart wrenches when I hear about believers suffering in the Sudan, the Middle East, and right here at home in the United States.
And sometimes I just get mad, and it has nothing to do with God, but everything to do with Robin. I behave like the clamorous woman in Proverbs 9:13, “simple, and knowing nothing,” railing about the world’s injustices and personal slights, rather than putting away “…all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking” as the believer does in Ephesians 4:31. Ahh, the beauty of good intentions and righteous indignation.
More often than I’d like to admit, I’m just like that waxy green pepper wallowing in the produce bin: immature. I look pretty good, but then I get “tossed to and fro by the waves” of life, “by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes…” even though I know “we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ…” (Ephesians 4:14, 15). Sometimes the enemy finds me easy pickings when I venture beyond my bedroom door before I get prayed up or do my Bible study. I’ve just been plucked too soon.
I’m not always easy on the taste buds either, just like my vegetable counterparts. What I call full and robust in flavor others may call overzealous and self-righteous. I think I’m on fire for Christ, but my own brand of tangy passion may turn off people rather than attracting them to Him. I know that “…we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing,” yet my gnawing on past hurts and current injuries doesn’t taste sweet and savory, but bitter, to His spirit and mine (2 Corinthians 2:15).
Chef Gold pointed out that a red bell pepper is basically a mature green pepper while demonstrating proper slicing techniques for our red pepper and goat cheese broo-SKET-a (if you can roll that r, even better). Red bell peppers are sweet. They have a nice fruity taste, with no bitterness at all. You can roast them, eat them raw, dice them for pimientos, or grind them for paprika (or pepperika, depending on where you live). My mama uses paprika in her potato salad, tuna salad, and deviled eggs, so you know a red bell pepper is a special thing.
But my mama uses green peppers, too, so that means I’m not all bad. God uses my faith in Him to transform the world around me, much as that mirepoix of onions, celery, and bell peppers transforms the Southern and Creole culinary world. I’m strong in flavor and not fully mature, but I can play well with other sweeter, more vibrantly colored veggies and you can find me almost anywhere, reasonably priced, ready to be used as God sees fit.
So, maybe I’m not really a green bell pepper. I’m more like those harder-to-find yellow peppers with a slight orange tinge.
But I’m definitely not red.