Food as Metaphor

Tiny dinner salad
The main course

I know the Corporate American Empire is disintegrating when a leading Republican candidate for president accuses the Federal Reserve of near treason while the Third Party candidates who ought to be given a hearing are ignored by the corporate media. I fret about the frayed social contract in Mexico, the Middle East, Europe, and England. The dollar gyrates and “structural unemployment” remains dauntingly high.

My family and I are fortunate. We live in wine country in Northern California renowned for its cuisine, and once in awhile I can be extravagant.

This morning I awake with musings about yesterday’s birthday dinner for my wife.  Once every blue moon, a vegan restaurant is recognized by the Michelin Guide. The restaurant was pricey, so we opted for three dishes and a dessert. Language can inform or mystify. At this restaurant, mystification abounded. Vegetables were special because they were grown in a biodynamic garden where organic poop trumps fertilizer.  One dish was described as “fresh extruded ‘seville’ [sic] orange fregola, a sardinian [sic] toasted pearl pasta”. Do not contemplate what “fresh extruded” brings to mind. In point of fact, typical dishes were composed of uninspired carbohydrate augmented by vegetable shavings, tiny pickled things, dots of compotes, and an occasional ground nut. The dishes were fashionably platted with an abstract flair, but the vegetables were too sparse; the compotes, too sweet; and the gustatory depth, nil. In the morning, I experienced a gas attack reminiscent of trench warfare. The chef had not attended to the elementary wisdom of food combining evident in traditional diet.

The food, so well reviewed by restaurant “rating agencies” was like America’s political and financial idealized image: Appearance before substance.

During the decline of ancient Rome, the moneyed classes dined on peacock tongues, honeyed meats, and succulent fruits and berries. They reveled in orgies of excess. During our decline, we pay exorbitant prices for pretense. We eat prissy meals devoid of hearty faire. We intellectualize our food and rationalize what is “good for us”. We moralize about our morsels. We value “expert opinion” more than experience. We have literally “lost our senses”. This morning I am having a lamb chop and eggs for breakfast.

An earlier version written by the author appeared on the 365 Blog.