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‘An Evening in Bethlehem'

OTC culinary arts student hopes to give attendees a taste of Jesus' time

Imagine a Christmas celebration without Santa Claus or Christmas trees. Imagine a Christmas without holiday shopping and traffic jams. Now imagine the very first Christmas.
    OTC culinary arts student Theresa Lloyd decided to create a unique feeling of Christmas for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, by way of their palates. Lloyd decided to tackle the annual Christmas dinner.    
    “Everybody on the activities committee at church was busy,” Lloyd explained, “so I just took on this project.”
    The project turned into a multi-course meal comprised of dishes that would have been served in the Middle East region approximately 2,000 years ago.
    To learn about foods and recipes during this time period, Lloyd researched the subject online and journeyed to the local library.
    “I found a couple books at the Statesboro Regional Library,” Lloyd said, “and I found a lot of great information on the Internet.”
    Lloyd said that she submerged herself in books for more than a month to select dishes that would have been suitable for a celebratory meal in Bethlehem at the time of Christ.
    In the process of experimentation, Lloyd realized that some of the ingredients were difficult to find in Statesboro.
    “I had a hard time finding barley flour here,” Lloyd said. “Grains are very hard to find in this area.”
    Lloyd also admitted that she included ingredients that would not have been available 2,000 years ago, pointing out the baking powder in the honey and barley cake.
    Lloyd employed the help of her family to taste recipes as she worked to modify them to make them more suitable for modern palates.
    “I knew I had done it when my son winked at me and gave me the thumbs up,” Lloyd said.
    After her extensive research and two weeks of taste-testing with her children and husband, Lloyd settled on a three-course meal made up of six different recipes.
    “Dilled cucumbers with sweet fennel and mint goat cheese served as the appetizer,” Lloyd explained. “For the main course, we had unleavened bread, a lentil and olive salad, and roasted venison.    The meal ended with a honey and barley cake.”
    With a vision in mind, Lloyd set about establishing Bethlehem in the church’s social hall.    
    “A manger was placed at one end of the social hall and white lights were hung on the walls,” Lloyd said. “I tried to find palm trees, but they’re a little hard to find this time of year.”
    Female members of the church dressed in costume and served the meal to members of the church, some of whom were also in costume.
    “I volunteered to do this because everybody else was busy,” Lloyd said, “but I also wanted people to think about the true meaning of Christmas,” away from Santa Claus and commercialism.
    “I want people to remember what the holiday is all about,” Lloyd said.
    Katherine Kennedy can be reached at (912) 489-9403.

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