A diner at a restaurant in northern Nigeria has discovered a piece of beef with the name of Allah on it, followed by the discovery of three more pieces of similarly "godly" meat in the kitchen. Now thousands are flocking to the eatery. A local says the fact that there were four pieces of meat, not just one, defies scientific explanation.
Of course, it's just the latest in a long series of sightings of religious figures and words in food or food-related items, something most experts ascribe to pareidolia, where people find significance in random or natural phenomena (think bunnies in clouds and Satanic messages in Beatles songs played backwards).
Let's take a trip through the past and revisit some of the more significant incidences of Jesus, the Virgin Mary or Allah deciding to pop up somewhere in people's lunches.
The Jesus Tortilla: A Lake Arthur, N.M., is making burritos when she sees the face of Jesus Christ in a tortilla. She builds a shrine to the tortilla, has a priest bless it, and thousands of pilgrims come to pray to it. It's still in the woman's backyard, but the image is no longer recognizable.
Pizza Hut Jesus: While praying by the side of the road for advice on whether she should go into secular singing, a member of a church choir sees Jesus's face in a forkful of spaghetti on an Atlanta Pizza Hut billboard. (The company says it's a standard photo.) The sign becomes a national sensation before it's taken down as part of the company's regular advertising rotation. The nearby Jiffy Lube claims it's seen business miraculously pick up since then.
Allah Tomato, Part One: A houswife in West Yorkshire, England, cuts open a tomato and sees the Arabic word "bismallah" ("in the name of Allah") on one half, with the words for "there is no God but Allah" on the other.
Ganesh Potato: A family in Mumbai, India, finds a potato shaped like the city's patron god, Ganesh. The divine tuber now supposedly gets 60 to 70 pilgrims a day.
Allah Eggplant, Part Two: Just like in 1990, except in Arabic.
Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese: A Hollywood, Fla., woman sells a grilled-cheese sandwich with the supposed image of the Virgin Mary for $28,000 on eBay. She says the sandwich is a decade old but has never developed mold or crumbled, and attributes her winning $70,000 in a casino to its miraculous nature.
Jesus Toast Kit: A Web designer touts a do-it-yourself Jesus toast kit on eBay with an opening price of $3,500.
Jesus Fish Stick: Inspired by the grilled-cheese Jesus, an Ontario man pulls out a burnt fishstick with an alleged image of Jesus out of the freezer, and announces that he'll sell it on eBay. (Starting to see a theme here, as the Jesus/Mary food sightings start becoming more plentiful?)
Jesus and Mary Pretzel: Another eBay auction, this time a Rold Gold honey-mustard pretzel that the Nebraskan sellers say resembles the Virgin Mary holding a baby Jesus.
Frying-Pan Jesus: A Prairie Lea, Texas, man sees the face of Jesus in the etchings on his frying pan as he's about to make his mother breakfast.
Jesus Fishbone: A Luther, Okla., couple uses eBay to sell a fishbone they say bears the image of Jesus.
Virgin Mary Chocolate Drippings: Workers at a chocolate factory in Fountain Valley, Calif., find a two-inch pile of chocolate drippings they say looks like the Virgin Mary.
Virgin Mary Pizza Grease: On Ash Wednesday, a kitchen worker at a Houston, Texas, elementary school sees the Lady of Guadalupe on a pizza-pan grease stain.
Virgin Mary Watermelon: An Arizona family finds the Virgin Mary in a slice of watermelon.
Allah Tomato, Part Two: A woman in Oxford, England, cuts open a tomato and sees the word "Allah" in Arabic.
Allah Beef: Diners in a Nigerian restaurant find four pieces of meat supposedly with the word "Allah"on it.
Epi-Log Jesus Toast: Using the method described here, I make my own Jesus toast at home (see the photo above). It ends up looking more like Karl Marx.
Michael Y. Park is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. He studied medieval history as an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, and journalism as a graduate student at New York University. His stories have appeared in publications including The New York Times, the New York Post, and the Toronto Globe and Mail.
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