Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Ruling Food

In A HISTORY OF COOKS AND COOKING, Michael Symons draws parallels between governance and cooking. 

On one hand, he quotes metaphorical similarities seen by Chinese writers: Lao Tze, in his TAO TE CHING, said that "Governing a large state is like cooking a small fish." By this, he seems to have meant that you shouldn't mess with it much. 

Other ancient writers compared good government to a good stew, with all the elements carefully prepared and perfectly blended, all the flavors and textures balanced and evenly distributed. 

On the other hand, he points out that no one is closer to a king than his cook, who prepares the substance of the monarch's strength and life. 

The ruler demands the best food his land and traders can provide, and so encourages energy in agriculture and food. 

In many cultures, banquets of the royal were vast, and leftovers were redistributed to underlings who took them home, ate, and redistributed leftovers to their underlings who took them home.... Sort of a trickle-down effect. 

Especially the gravy.

Marian Allen

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