11/18/13

"There is poetry in nearly everything"

“THEN, of course, there is the larger and more philosophical riddle of why the vegetarians, or fruitarians, try to make their dishes sound, or even seem, like meat dishes? Why do they talk non-sense about nut-cutlets or tomato toad-in-the-hole? Why do they make nutton rhyme to mutton, and nutter rhyme to butter? It seems a futile poetical exercise. It cannot be supposed to take anyone in. We meat-eaters might as well pretend that cutlets grow on trees. We might as well talk about picking sausages in the hedgerows, or growing fish-cakes in our garden. But while it is not deceptive, it is degrading. It is beneath the dignity of men who (though a trifle mad) are manifestly sincere believers in their cause, that they should elaborately mimic the shapes and titles of the systems which they seek to dethrone.

"We expect Food Reformers to be prigs; but they need not be snobs too. If they really think it wrong to eat meat, if they honestly consider it a kind of cannibalism, why should they introduce reminders of the revolting habit that they renounced? When the South Sea Islanders are reclaimed from cannibalism, I never heard that their dishes were called “Smith Sauté” or “Brown à la Maître d’Hôtel.”
 

"Moreover, these disguises are artistically very inappropriate to the cause in question. There is poetry in nearly everything, even in a fruit diet. But the poetry depends wholly on the simplicity; there is a certain human and traditional beauty about the idea of a man living on wild fruits in a wood or on rich fruits in a garden; but not about a man eating mashed and mis-named fruit along with a cup of Brunak. These fruitarian gourmets and epicures take away from a fruit diet the one real attraction that it has ever had for human imagination—its directness, its coolness and cleanliness, its scent of Eden. I will eat nuts with any man—or any monkey. But they must be nuts—not nutton, or nutter, or nusco, or nutrogen, or nuttolene, or nuttose, or nutarian Cashew.”

~G.K. Chesterton: from Illustrated London News, Dec. 4, 1909.


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