Summary: Just like there are no longer forbidden foods, the gospel is not withheld from you--though you are a Gentile.
Fried Rattlesnake (Acts 10)
Do you think St. Peter ever ate a snake? Acts chapter 10-11 it says that God showed Peter a vision of a hillbilly banquet coming down out of heaven (this is how some folks prove that heaven is East Texas, but I am not so sure). Anyway, it says there’s a snake on the blanket and God tells Pete to kill some and have a bite.
I’ve eaten snake—fried rattlesnake to be more precise. Some people say it tastes like chicken. No, it tastes like snake.
The authorities would not let me have an open flame cooking class up here today. I can, however, tell you how to prepare a fried rattlesnake dinner that contains all four food groups.
1. Bake a chocolate cake (this is the 1st food group).
2. Fry two pounds of bacon in a cast iron skillet. Leave ½ pound on the drainboard to much on while you’re cooking, and put the rest in the fridge.
3. Leave the bacon grease (2nd food group) in the skillet.
4. Go outside and find a big rattlesnake.
5. Kill the snake.
6. Nail the snake’s head to a tree.
7. Go in the house, skin and boil six large potatoes.
8. Go back outside and cut the snake down the middle being careful to not ruin the rattles.
9. Cut the skin away from the head.
10. Pull down hard and steady.
11. Lay the skin in the sun to dry.
12. Instruct the dog to leave the snakeskin alone.
13. Cut the body away from the head.
14. Disengage the guts.
15. Wash whatever you are left holding.
16. Slice the meat into half-inch thick patties.
17. Pour a lot of flour onto two plates, and scramble three eggs in a bowl.
18. Put black pepper and some cayenne pepper and some salt in the second mound of flour.
19. Put some more pepper and salt in the first mound of flour.
20. Put in more pepper—you’re about to eat a rattlesnake.
21. Check the grease. It should be hot enough that a lady spit jumps back out of the skillet. (Lady spit is small, projectile spittle shot off the front of the tongue as though you were trying to get rid of a piece of lint or a hair.)
22. Dip the meat in the first mound, then in the egg, then in the second mound.
23. Do not drop, but gently lay the battered meat into the hot grease. If done correctly you’ll not get burned. If done wrong, you’ll learn.
24. Heat up the oven.
25. Wrap a bunch of bread in foil.
26. Put the bread in the oven.
27. Leave the meat in the grease until it’s brown on the bottom, then turn it over.
28. Put a couple paper towels on a plate.
29. When the meat is brown on the other side lay it on the paper towels.
30. Cover the meat with two more paper towels.
31. Repeat the above snake cooking steps until all the snake is cooked.
32. Fork-test the potatoes.
33. If they’re done, drain off the water, add a stick of butter (3rd food group) and some milk.
34. Mash the lumps out of the potatoes.
35. Put two cans of peas in a big bowl with a half stick of butter.
36. Put the bowl in the microwave.
37. Nuke the peas.
38. Leaving the fire low, slowly sprinkle the left over flour into the left over grease and scratch it around until the flour is cooked.
39. Slowly add whole milk, while squishing out the lumps. Do not add too much milk. The final consistency resembles grayish-brown wallpaper paste. This process takes some practice, but eventually you will scratch through the lumps and have the fourth food group: gravy.
40. Take the peas out of the microwave and the bread out of the oven.
41. Put everything on the table.
42. Call everybody to eat.
43. Feed them fried rattlesnake while you eat mashed potatoes, gravy, peas and chocolate cake.
If Peter had the recipe he probably would not have drawn back from that tablecloth full of food. Mudbugs, rabbit, possum, ham, oysters, all that stuff is pretty good when it’s prepared correctly. Peter just had a vision without a recipe—he saw the food, but did not understand how to prepare it.
Fortunately, the Bible does not end with Peter’s vision. If we read the rest of the chapter, we learn that the point is not about food. God was preparing Peter to share forgiveness with the Gentiles (non-Jewish folks like us). Let’s read the story
(Acts 11:1-18 NIV) The apostles and the brothers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him 3 and said, “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.”