Saturday, October 19, 2013

Consider the Onion, How She Rolls

I. Yesterday a relative told me she had bought a membership to one of those warehouse food-suppliers:
"A gallon of milk is only two dollars!"

(Relative is not poor, not by any standards.)

I thought––but did not say––"But why do you think it's so cheap?"
[Meaning, consider the cows.] I didn't say it because I know Relative is allergic to my moralizing, quite likely from overexposure.

II. I rather like invitations to moralize about food. This morning I read that Robert Capon, food writer, priest (Episcopalian), and theologian died last month (Sept. 5, 2013).

Reading in his NYT obituary his call to be mindful of the onion while preparing to cook it, I thought of a garden photo I took this week:
"You will note, to begin with, that the onion is a thing, a being, just as you are," Capon wrote. 

"An onion is not a sphere in repose [but] a linear thing, a bloom of vectors thrusting upward from base to tip.... 
[a] paradigm of life that it is — as one member of the vast living, gravity-defying troop that, across the face of the earth, moves light- and air-ward as long as the world lasts."

III.  I think it's fun to see how the onion is constructed, but if you wave it in people's faces and make them cry, they won't think so.

I wrestle with my desire to preach, not because I think it's wrong to make moral connections (hardly!), but because the heavy-handed way I've done it in the past has not been helpful to anyone, least of all to myself.

I fear I'm genetically predisposed to moral thumpery, from my mother's grandfather, James L. Davis (right). 

Born in 1865 at the end of the Civil War,  he was an evangelist for the Church of Christ in the hills of Kentucky. The real thing, he traveled with a horse, a rifle, and a Bible.  
He died in 1947, having lived through World War II.

My grandfather, who hated this dogmatic father of his and ran away from home as soon as he could, used to sing out this phrase of his father's.
In his Missouri accent, it sounded like,
"Holy Bible, book a' lah."  

I never knew if he was singing "book of love" or "book of law."

It's so tempting to thwack people with the law, but I've noticed it doesn't work that well, in the long run. 
It never has for me, anyway.
I knew the facts about factory-farmed dairy cattle, but what finally changed my milk-buying habits was Marz coming along and insisting we spend the money (2 to 4 times as much) on organic milk from grass-fed cows because it makes her--and me--happy: it tastes better (it does) and it's nice to be able to consider the cows (instead of averting my thoughts).

P.S. Capon's good on dairy products and alcohol too. 
From the his obit in the Economist, who supply my favorite obituaries:
"He had no truck with American abstinence. 'God invented cream. Furthermore, having made us in his image, he means us to share his delight in its excellence,' he wrote. 
He liked a drink or two as well: a married couple’s half-bottle amid meatloaf and brawling children was one of the 'cheerful minor lubrications' of the 'sandy gears of life'. But modern-day Americans, he wrote glumly, 'drink the way we exercise: too little and too hard.' "


Zhoen said...

I love the eggs I get from happy, local chickens, they taste so much better, needing no salt nor pepper.

When I get really good quality food, I find myself more satisfied with less.

Krista Kennedy said...

Wow. Thanks so much for this --all of it.

Fresca said...

ZHOEN: Eggs are the food where I can *most* clearly see & taste the difference between factory-raised and not.

I think you're right---the better quality, better tasting food is, the less I need to feel satisfied too.

So that's a possible money-saver. I mean, good food can cost a LOT more, but if I eat less of it, that's some help.

KRISTA: You are welcome!