By JEANNIE WILEY WOLF
BLUFFTON — What started as a dream has become a reality at Bystillwaters Bistro in Bluffton, where owner Heather Cox has added nine new entrées under a “Dining With God” portion of the menu.
Meals range from fish in oil with unleavened bread to fish cakes and cucumber salad.
“This is all the food that would have been available to Jesus when he was walking on the Earth,” said Cox. “It was very colorful food. It was really healthy, very healthy. Everything you see is all God-made, no man-made stuff.”
A native of England, Cox took over the former Jeanne’s Kitchen at 112 Vine St. about a month ago. She had been a rehabilitation therapist for 17 years and was looking to make a change.
“I was doing six to seven massages every day, six days a week,” she said. “I prayed to God: ‘OK, I’m getting kind of too old to do this massage therapy stuff. I want to do something else’. I said, ‘God, give me a sign so I know if this is what I’m supposed to do.'”
Two weeks later, Cox had no clients.
“So I said, ‘wow, if that’s not a sign then I need to do something else,'” she said.
About the same time, Cox learned that Jeanne Previte was thinking of retiring and closing Jeanne’s Kitchen. She worked with Previte for six months and, when Previte retired in February, Cox took over.
“So there were lots of prayers about what I needed to do,” she said.
Cox decided to dedicate the business to God and renamed it Bystillwaters Bistro, based on the 23rd Psalm.
“And in that it says, ‘He prepares a table before my enemies.’ And I was just praying about it. ‘What am I supposed to do here?'” she said.
Cox kept some of Previte’s recipes, but has also injected her own personality into the restaurant. In a nod to her heritage, the menu now includes a “Touch of England” entrée section like Bubble and Squeak (potato and kale), cottage pie and Cornish pasties. She also hosts English tea parties.
But one of the biggest changes was the addition of the “Dining With God” selections, inspired by a dream Cox had one night about dining with God.
“I woke up and the first thing I thought was, ‘OK, what food would you eat?'” she recalled.
She began researching the types of food that would have been available in Jesus’ time, recording them in a large notebook.
“So he would have had the coriander, cumin and dill, and garlic and mint. So one of the things has mint on it,” she said.
Grapes, beans, leeks and lentils were also available, and Jesus may have even eaten hummus, she said. Because of the heat, dried fruits would have been eaten.
“And he would have had to have eat seasonally because they didn’t have refrigerators back then. Or their meats would have been salted. They would have been smoked,” Cox explained.
Chickens were also available, so Cox offers the option of adding goat cheese or chicken to an apple and fig salad with red onions and mint.
“This is good, healthy food. There’s no chemicals in it,” said Cox.
She also found an old traditional recipe for unleavened bread which is made right at the restaurant.
“He would have had unleavened bread. He would have had the tomatoes. He would have had figs, goat cheese, dates. He would have had all that. But the point is, just because he never made it up doesn’t mean to say it wasn’t available to him,” she said.
Each meal also has a reference to Scripture. For example, said Cox, fish in oil with salad, balsamic vinegar and unleavened bread refers to Luke 9: 16-17 which tells of Jesus feeding 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish.
For fun, Cox has even added a selection of “Jesus Pizza” to the menu, using unleavened dough which can be topped with items like goat cheese and onions — foods that were available during Jesus’ day. The pizza is served with a pomegranate salad.
“He could have done that,” said Cox. “He would not have necessarily thought about pizza, but you can still do it today.”
“He would have been able to choose all of this,” she added. “We’ve just brought his menu up to the 21st century.”
The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 2:30-5 p.m. Wednesdays, and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5-7:30 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays.
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