Thursday, February 10, 2005

Wow! Such scandal. Such fall-out! Who would have known that a lamb roast could have ethical dilemmas!?

Roving Gastronome was a little slow on posting this, so I, being a man of action, took matters into my own hand. Besides, this seems relevant here as I may have actually inspired this soul searching. I complimented a friend, let's just call her Dr. S, about "her" carrots. "Thanks," said the Doctor. But they were good carrots. Besides, somebody actually did make these carrots. It wasn't like they were pressed out of a machine. I like to think some Mexican man wearing a hairnet, making just over minimum wage, and enjoying limited but adequate health-care benefits lovingly sprinkled sesame seeds on these slow-cooked sweet goodness.

And for the record, I'd prefer someone to buy and bring something good than make and bring something bad. It's your money, babe. And my stomach.

> To:
> Department of Culino-Ethics
> Roving Gastronome Plaza
> From:
> "Rex" in NYC
Dear Roving Gastronome Staff Ethicist,

I'm hoping you can give me some advice. I recently attended a lamb roast very similar to the one described so colorfully on these pages. Coincidentally, this lamb roast also featured a main course of lamb accompanied by pot-luck side dishes from all the guests. Well, as it happened, I didn't actually have time to cook anything that weekend, so I just bought some prepared food at Whole Foods and brought it along as my potluck contribution. The problem is, once I got there I pretended I had made the food myself! There I was, surrounded by lovingly homemade dishes of brains, of liver, of little cupcakes with hand-piped frosting decorated with mint springs -- and my dish was a fraud. A lie! True, I think it brought some pleasure into people's lives, judging from the way they were shoveling it in, but I feel sort of sleazy. Does this incident mean that, at heart, I am not a true 'foodie'?

Dear Rueful "Rex":

There are certainly some shades of gray in this issue. Certainly it sounds as if you never actively said, "Whoo-boy, I slaved over a hot stove for those babies. I hope you like 'em." So if your foodie friends jump to the conclusion that you made them, it simply reflects their mindset; if you were to do the same at a party full of other harried Manhattanites, the guests would likely assume you _had not_ cooked the carrots in question. And I would imagine that you, aka Mr. Conscientious, certainly arrived at the party with a clearly marked "Whole Foods" bag in hand, so as never to be accused of trying to disguise your contribution. If all this is the case, then put your
mind at rest.

What matters is that the food tastes good (and ideally has no hydrogenated fats). In this respect, I would imagine your contribution met the high standards set by your foodie friends. Why, coincidentally, a fellow attendee at my Sunday lamb roast, when presented with this hypothetical situation, was reminded of similar
carrots he had eaten, and said, "Who cares? They were _great_ carrots!"

He, in fact, saw the quickie carrots as an interesting test of the foodie ethic, suggesting that perhaps people would not have praised them had they known they had been purchased, not slaved over with thine own two hands. Ah, the double-edged sword of the critics!

In any case, I'm sure the carrots reflected your excellent taste, and this is what's really valued. Had you purchased two dozen of those chocolate-marshmallow puffs you see at deli checkouts, well, then you'd be cast down.

Sleaze no more, noble carrot-bearer.

Ethically yours--



Dr.S said...

Photis, Photis: please! Have a little discretion about my identity. My good name is all I have, and I don't want it sullied in the foodie community.

Fotaq said...

Dearest Dr. S,
I quick Google search for "Dr. S" and "carrots reveals 4,110 results. Even throwing in "fraud" leaves the nosey inquisitor with 65 options to ponder. Rest assured, philosopher, your identity shall remain secret.—Photis