The Snotty Chef's Prolog

Food: The stuff no living organism can exist without.

Cooking: Most generally what we do with food before eating it.

Cuisine: An art of cooking food and its combinings as great as the other arts and the arts of science and medicine. The making of, is the art; that is the root and meaning of the word of the word "art".

Our closest biological ancestors, bonobos, are exquisite artistes of sex and and the giving of pleasures. While we should undoubtedly learn from them more of our natures, we are not after all bonobos, and for some reason, perhaps simple ability, become more complicated in our expressions of love and caring. One of those clear, ancient and present ways is the feeding and nurturing of each other, physically and psychologically; we are mammals and social species, and have developed ways of doing this that are unique to us.

The nurturing is not only physical but most especially psychological. The mother first feeds her infant, a bonding of great strength, and first experience of an emotional relationship. valid and common among all mammals, elephant, human, ape, lemur or dolphin. It can go well, or badly and influence an individual for a lifetime. Attraction for sexual purposes is one thing, love for another irrespective of that peculiar attraction seems to be a unique attribute of genuine humans - but, it is not. The animal world, even to avians is filled with relationships of bonding that have nothing to do with sex. We make foolish models of reality based on our relatively stupid and severely limited and ignorant perceptions of reality, and then declare the models to be reality. If there are false idols, these are they.

Sharing of food is one thing, it being known among many species; the preparation of food as an act of love, and expression of value is quite another. Among humans, the quality of preparation is first a measure of love. That this love has often been degraded into "undue respect" and ultimately into fear of rulers is another matter; the art, and the desire for that art of the expression of love comes first in the context of the smallest social unit that one might tentatively call family, requiring only two, that is not necessarily blood or genetically related. It is a social unit, no more.

Humans, all over the globe, have celebrations of various sorts for various invented reasons during which people are united and reunited who have been estranged, usually geographically. What is the overriding common feature of these reunitings? Food. Always, it is food. There are always traditional and celebratory dishes; they are always special dishes that are often eaten at no other time, and they are rememberances of the emotional bonds between the celebrants.

This is an ancient custom, and it still has meaning if we allow genuine reality to have meaning; the ancient cycles are repeated in continuing expressions of love and its manifold connections. All cultures have their socially codified gestures that give deference to the honored guest. Sometimes, the guest must eat first; in more wary cultures, the host must eat first - to show that the food has not been poisoned. Local social customs can seem baroque or even barococo to the uninitiated, but there is always some sociological understanding available in terms of history - if you know it, or bother to find it.

For good or for evil, cuisine is an art, and it is this art that TSC seeks to explore here using the various tools and understandings at his command.

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Created: January 9, 2006
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