In Private

For exaltation my memory is effectively very short. Anything that is good is The Best Thing Ever until there is something else. The nicest meal I've ever had is, I suspect, something only to happen and be appreciated in solitude.

Some would find the presentation too artful; they insist that all food be slopped on a plate (or piled into a bowl) without intention. To them, artifice is to be sniffed out and slandered, and they posit that absolute accidence is possible, like a grungy teenager trying to find the zero-degree of unkempt. They would ridicule the way the egg is nestled carefully atop a mound of yellow zucchini, but they would not say so outright. "Oh, very fancy," they would say, beaming at their plate and emitting hyperbolic oohs and ahhs. They would not intend to mock, but haplessly it would slip through the surface of their praise.

Others would poke at the oily squash distrustfully, smiling, wondering where the meat and potatoes are. But they, too, would not say this. Although vegetarianism has passed through several phases of It and Not, they wouldn't want to be so far behind the times as to dismiss it entirely. Some of their best friends are vegetarians. One must embrace all things; nothing is bad or wrong, not even personally, just different. Trying to prove themselves adaptable, they would grab hold of a sturdy rung of relativism. "Mmm, it's quite good," they would say, "I like zucchini," leaving half their portion of that vegetable on their plate.

Still others would find a dish of just two items--dividing food into items as they do--unfit, following the rigid, contemporary notion that what makes a meal is a protein, a starch, and a vegetable. Always this prefix of "a". Without starch what is it? A snack perhaps. They would finish their sunny plate with gusto, finding it charming, amusing, and then expectantly wait for the next course. Maybe, if I had any, I would find them some bread.

So it is not a dish I would serve. I wouldn't make it in company either. It wouldn't occur to me to do so. With others my imagination doesn't reach to pleasure myself with things untried, but scurries among the staid for something that might displeasure everyone least. On the other hand, if I were trying to impress rather than comfort, I would do something flashy--which sauteed zucchini and poached egg is decidedly not.

If I served it to me, though, I would think it has too much olive oil and would prefer butter, I would want another egg, would revel in the simple seasoning of salt and black pepper, congratulate myself on the softened but not mushy zucchini, delight in this newfound pleasure, the poached egg, which happily lacks those automobile qualities of the fried egg--rubber and grease--and I might make it again sometime. But that's always a questionable urge.

16 July 2012