August 3, 2010 4:22 AM   Subscribe

It tasted like wafers made with honey and it covered the ground like frost. There are different sorts of manna, some of which have been tasted and reviewed by the team at the French Culinary Institute. A related article identifies some restaurants using manna today, and you can even buy your own manna online!

Yes, there is a song about it.
posted by Joe in Australia (25 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Everyone knows manna was actually made by a nuclear reactor, built by ancient Israelites. Or at least, any one that has rotted their brain watching some of the more questionable history channel shows.
posted by fermezporte at 4:39 AM on August 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

So when will the quail be served?
posted by orange swan at 6:08 AM on August 3, 2010 [2 favorites]

Manna? Like from heaven? I don't know, somehow I don't feel worthy. Is there a lite version?
posted by fuse theorem at 6:12 AM on August 3, 2010

Wait, so when people say something tastes like manna, they mean a specific flavour? Huh. And the flavour is wafers and honey. I have definitely been misusing this phrase.
posted by shinybaum at 6:16 AM on August 3, 2010

Dammit, I love Metafilter for stuff like this - I had no idea that manna was a real phenomenon, and not only that, there are several varietals available online. Mind? Blown.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:18 AM on August 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Manna is ant poop! MANNA IS ANT POOP!
posted by bovious at 6:37 AM on August 3, 2010

It seems like Whole Foods or Trader Joe's would be carrying some kind of Manna product.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 6:37 AM on August 3, 2010

And it cures child mevel and john death. Not every candy can say that.
posted by contessa at 6:43 AM on August 3, 2010 [2 favorites]

Fantastic post! thanx!
posted by ouke at 7:26 AM on August 3, 2010

So it's bug poo and acts as a laxative as well? Doesn't sound so heavenly.
posted by kinnakeet at 7:36 AM on August 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

From the Wikipedia article:

As a natural food substance, manna would produce waste products; but in classical rabbinical literature, as a supernatural substance, it was held that manna produced no waste, resulting in no defecation among the Israelites until several decades later, when the manna had ceased to fall. Modern medical science suggests the lack of defecation over such a long period of time would cause severe bowel problems, especially when other food later began to be consumed again. Classical rabbinical writers say that the Israelites complained about the lack of defecation, and were concerned about potential bowel problems.

It's good to know that there is still room in religious scholarship for the truly important, eternal questions, like whether or not the Israelites pooped.
posted by yhbc at 7:51 AM on August 3, 2010 [8 favorites]

From the Wiki: In the Biblical account, the name manna is said to derive from the question man hu, seemingly meaning "What is it?";

Isn't something similar to this the basis for all sorts of translation-related jokes? Sort of an Abbot and Costello of Biblical lore...
posted by quin at 7:54 AM on August 3, 2010

My mother always used Kellogg's Sugar Pops as manna when she taught the Moses lessons in Vacation Bible School.
posted by kidelo at 8:03 AM on August 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Believe it or not, I am buying some on line. right. now. and I didn't have to walk through the desert for 40 years. Hu-ya!
posted by Tarumba at 8:28 AM on August 3, 2010

While it is always nice to try to find some real object, phenomenon, or event which corresponds to some mysterious biblical reference, in some cases they are just made up. Even though we now have products made from plant sap called manna, there is no guarantee that this has anything to do with the manna supposedly sent by God to sustain Jews as they travelled from Egypt to Canaan. When we look at historical evidence other than the bible, there is no confirmation that Jews were ever slaves in Egypt or made any exodus from Egypt. It is likely that the whole story is fictional.

The most widely consumed form of plant sap is maple syrup, which also exists in solid form as maple sugar; this should also qualify as a form of manna.
posted by grizzled at 8:33 AM on August 3, 2010

It is likely that the whole story is fictional.

posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 9:19 AM on August 3, 2010

If God was going to feed me during my wandering, you bet your ass I'd want it to be maple syrup.... and waffles. MMMMMmmmmm....
posted by klanawa at 9:47 AM on August 3, 2010

The Bible, by way of its earlier incarnations as Jewish religious fables, written down, studied and passed along, has a lot of things of interest to historians and other scholars. The Hittite empire (Hatti) being the example that immediately sticks out in my mind. Manna as a mundane and local phenomena is pretty darn interesting, too.

Note - this excludes kooks looking for Noah's Ark or astronomical evidence of past miracles. Proving that miracles happened isn't the point, and counter-productive from both a scientific and religious perspective. Proving that history happened is the point. Yes, the Bible is inaccurate and sketchy, but then again, so were Ramses' steles celebrating "victories" that were actually closer to disastrous defeats...
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:56 AM on August 3, 2010

Manna, in the form of dried sap (or alternatively, the excretion of insects who have eaten dried sap) does bear some resemblance to "manna" as described in the bible, both in terms of appearance and flavor. It is not, however, an extremely abundant form of food, and it is particularly scarce in the desert where it was supposedly found in such great abundance that it was able all by itself to sustain the migrating tribes of Israel (who inexplicably spent 40 years in the desert when the trip to Canaan could be accomplished on foot in about a month at most). So, maybe there is a connection, maybe it was just pure imagination. No matter what flights of fancy appear in the bible, someone is going to try to connect them to some real event or object. Wheels of fire (Isaiah) are spaceships.
posted by grizzled at 10:53 AM on August 3, 2010

The only mana I need
posted by stormpooper at 11:15 AM on August 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's good to know that there is still room in religious scholarship for the truly important, eternal questions, like whether or not the Israelites pooped.

They pooped. The Old Testament gives instructions in the Law about it. They were to go outside the camp, take a shovel with them, and cover it up when they were done.

posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:53 AM on August 3, 2010

As to the Biblical manna, the Bible says it is angel's food. Think of it as heavenly lambas.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:54 AM on August 3, 2010

But can you substitute it for orange gels or ether?
posted by NoraReed at 12:50 PM on August 3, 2010


Dude, define "real" once and for all and you can claim your PHD in philosophy.

I don't read most of the bible as a scientific or historical account. Many mistakenly make the factual nature of biblical accounts the basis upon which to judge the "truth" of the Bible. I'm taught that the bible has enough truth sufficient for salvation. Such truth can be and often is in the form of proverbs, stories, and myths. I get my history from history books, my science from science books, and my religion from religious books like the bible.

But what impresses me about this story is how God used manna to retrain the Isrealites to depend on Him.

Think about it. The Isrealites ate the same. damn. thing. every day. for. years. A sweet but bland food, hardly Land of Canaan fodder. And God only gave them a day's supply at a time which they had to work to gather from the ground each morning. Hard work for basic sustenance. I figure that Yahweh could easily have sent a inexhuastible flock of goats or lambs or something, but he chose to give them manna one day at a time.

The way I see it, God was teaching them about the importance of embracing the dailiness of life. That variety, abundance, and leisure are nice, but not necessary. Only dependence on God (Being, Love) is necessary. Since they had been several generations in Egypt, they had started to worship the Egyptian gods and had forgotten Yaweh. So Yahweh sent Moses to get them back. Then, once rescued, God had to retrain the Isrealites to depend on Him. Hence the 40 years in the desert and stuff like the daily manna thing.

I get a lot from the story, regardless of whether it is factual or not. And I'm not all that eager to try manna. Although I've always imagine it would have tasted something like animal crackers. (Corn Pops are a cool analogy too!)
posted by cross_impact at 2:05 PM on August 3, 2010

I always liked the idea that manna was some kind of hallucinogenic mushroom (or just a plant of some kind) that the Israelites (at least the elite group among them) ate - sustaining their bodies on the long trek through desert, whilst lighting strange fires in their brains and making them converse with burning bushes and develop elaborate rituals.
posted by Myeral at 6:46 AM on August 4, 2010

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