POLITICALLY CORRECT: Gastronomic Language of the Banal-Retentive
Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge
even where there’s no river. - Nikita Khrushchev
“To PC or not PC, now that is the question,” my elegant luncheon companion invoked in the downtown dining room called Bacchus. Eva is well-schooled in matters culinaire; I had been watching the swoop of her hair as it fell in a Veronica Lake waterfall, deliciously close to her soup.
“You’re right, you can’t be too careful these days,” I drolled pleasantly, unruffled by her rising invective, and concentrating instead on the piece of clam lodged between my new crowns.
“From the tone of your voice I suppose you’re referring to the Politically Correct, and not the demise of the Progressive Conservatives, or whatever they call themselves now,” I asked.
“Just look at this,” she announced, unfurling the morning tabloid. The headline read, 'FISHERS AGAPE AT SOCKEYE CLOSURE.' “I’m just old enough to remember when a fisher was something that mountain climbers tried not to fall into,” she steamed.
"Especially on their way home from the pub,” I allowed. “Rather ironic, too, that no self-respecting “fisher” would wrap his,” I paused, “or her catch in this nasty newspaper.”
“And look at this one,” she exclaimed, shaking her finger at the business section headline—'CHAIRS SHUFFLED ON B.C. FERRIES BRIDGE.' “You see, even our public servants have been reduced to mere sticks of furniture.”
“So in a PC board meeting, I guess the Chair could table the motion? I asked.”
“Yeah, and then you’ve got the whole damn dinette suite,” she said.
* * *
After the bowls of cassoulet had been delivered, we ate quietly before she continued.
“It must be particularly difficult to be PC in your line of work. I mean, don’t people ask you how you could possibly write about 14-course tasting menus when so many people in the world go hungry, especially after the tsunami and the hurricanes?”
Oh sweet duck reduction, I thought. Her question had momentarily soured my lentils—they took on the taste of tin foil applied to molar fillings.
“Good gravy, Eva! You just have to be clear,” I said. “For instance, while I was waiting for you, I ltold our waitress — excuse me, our female server — that I'd be donating her tip to help restore the offshore kelp forest."
“Hmmm, and was she pleased with this news?” Eva asked.
“We can only hope,” I said, wiping some pre-Mussolini Brunello from the sleeve of my suit. It married well with some foie of sparrow. “Besides, I’m simply trying to assist my fellow countrypersons to come to grips with our collective fear of sensuality. I mean, after all, this is the country that gave the world Hush Puppies. The shoes I mean.”
“Hmmm,” she said, exhaling deeply, “and enough of this crêpe!” as she pushed an earthy-smelling pine mushroom pancake away.
“Besides, eating is the only thing that Canadians are still allowed to do three times a day,” I said.
“Well, as long as we take huge helpings of visible free range fibre,” she said “and keep our veal, foie gras and caviar predilections in the closet, maybe the Culinary PC Police will leave us alone."
* * *
“In the light of what Proust wrote with so mild a stimulus, it is the world’s loss that he did not have a heartier appetite. On a dozen Gardiner’s Island oysters, a bowl of clam chowder, a peck of steamers, some bay scallops, three sautéed soft-shelled crabs, a few ears of fresh-picked corn, a thin swordfish steak of generous area, a pair of lobsters, and a Long Island duck, he might have written a masterpiece.” - A.J. Liebling
I took a large slice of tarte Tatin for my dessert. Eva had a plate of fruits. A purée of raspberries lapped against her figs and promised to stain her teeth the colour of the Renaissance.
“A.J. Liebling was profoundly non-PC,” I started, “but persons of the opposite . . . gender loved him for what he was. And there was much to love.”
“If you keep eating like this you’ll end up looking like Liebling.”
“Trouser-challenged?” I asked.
“Liebling simply put his mouth where his money was,” I said.
“He was a glutton.”
"Horizontally-challenged, a person of size, a larger-than-life character,” I said.
“He ate and drank to excess,” Eva said, really throwing down the gauntlet, for she knows full well my love for Liebling.
“He simply loved life and let it love him. His very name announces that,” I said.
"He was a blimp, for goodness sake.”
“No, he was simply an early adopter of the politics of inclusion.”
“He took up the whole sidewalk.”
“He provided his friends with a feeling of approval towards life.”
“He had gout."
“Rheumatism of the over-served.”
“He could eat the GDP of several Red States in one sitting.”
“He simply thought that a clear soup was more important in life than a clear conscience,” I said.
* * *
Finally, over coffee, I told Eva what I thought she might care to hear: “I think you’re better,” I said, “You haven’t said anything remotely PC for the last ten minutes."
But she wasn’t quite finished with me.
“I just realized,” she said, “that the only way to stop you from eating all this stuff is if I let you keep your tongue in cheek.”
“You must excuse me,” I said, “I didn’t realize I was being so obvious. I’m afraid I have something snagged in my new crowns.”
“You’re excused,” she said. “Do you think they have any decent Scotch in this joint?”
Edited by jamiemaw, 17 December 2005 - 04:54 PM.