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LXXV. Cuisine and Literature

by | Feb 28, 2016 | Opus Magnum

windowWe could very well begin with a brief biographical introduction describing the artificial life suffered by the writer of the article who shall animate our following story; at the same time, it is verily true that we could head to the kitchen and fix a great bocata of bellota ham and manchego cheese; or, if not in the mood for food, to look for the I Ching and ask the required question.

Of course that we could also take advantage of the (maybe) hazardous and (apparently) random coincidence of his own surname with what we are about to reveal, and infer or even suggest that he could have lost, due to a quite nasty infection, his wisdom[1], this having had occurred when he was a little child; yet, if that were to be true, this article could have never been written; or indeed could have, given its horrendous quality for which we do apologize wholeheartedly.

If we were forced to choose one of the two possible paths, namely, between the reality in which the infamous article has never been written or to follow the trail on which the interesting article has effectively been written down indeed, and we opted for the affirmative answer and path, surely that same piece of pseudo-literature shall claim that the following lines appeared in a famous and progressive newspaper, perhaps printed in a country bathed by the Mediterranean waters, and then we would read the following fictionalised account.

Despite how incredible it might sound (or read, or both), that’s what happened in real life; here, the facts: what is certain is that the grey and naturally frustrated literary analyst and envious pseudo-writer, called by some don Rafael González de la Muela, has recently affirmed through an article of his, published in the exemplary and progressive Spanish newspaper El País, which (oh, what a lovely coincidence) was at the time surreptitiously publishing de la Muela’s last edited essay about the much overlooked relationship of literature and the culinary arts, the following:

“The meagre figure (80) that the mirroring scale reports to my eyes are the vital pounds left on my body after several years of incessant research and investigations; that is how passion can be measured; such is the passion which put my mind away from earthly and shallow concerns; a passion that led me, for the benefit of all (myself included), towards a discovery, or better said an intuition, that has been ruminated and carved in my mind during this solacious time of study that allowed me to dive into the very essence of the Hispanic literature and its uniting bonds with the culinary arts:

“Who needs to get nourishment, eat, digest, and then wash whatever silverware has been used when food can be thought? Today it is a known fact that the Spanish folk had (and still have in some regions) this custom of surnaming their newborns after their place of birth[2], something that curiously did not happen in this very case which is the genesis of my ponderings and insights: the case of the gentlemanly don Quijote de la Mancha.

“Such a surnameal vagueness forces us to bring forward a set of uncomfortable questions: where did that family name come from? Did he, the gentlemanly Quijote, arise into this world out of the waters of the Stain Channel?[3] Was he a delayed Moses, doomed to represent the prototype of a future Man and have his own life taken in a literal way instead of having it read in a mystical and secret way? Was he born somewhere in the vast region that stretches itself from the Montes of Toledo to the Serranías of Cuenca?

“I am not one of those who perchance might feel satisfied with such tepidness and geographical inaccuracies; I seek certainty just like the wind seeks the exit orifice of freedom; like the perfume flies to find a suitable nose: such is the kind of passion that made me consider the advantages of lateral thinking – something that surely would (and did) help me break the scholastic monotony; such unpredictable geometry of thought led me to a gastric epiphany that, carving an acid taste in my refluxed mouth, opened the windows of my fatty perception: could it be that the celebrated man, that novelesque character who was conceived and created and sculpted through the words of the great Pierre Menard, to then be perfectly re-written in the Hispanic fashion of the early XVII century through the hand of Miguel de Cervantes and to finally be repeated throughout the history of world literature, known by all as Don Quixote de la Mancha, owns his surname not to his original and vague, almost uncertain birthplace, but to his unique clumsiness in the arts of eating and tasting culinary delicacies?

“Allowing myself to be governed by the biblical assertion that echoes through eternity repeating that ‘You see the mote which is in your brother’s eye; but you do not see the beam which is in your own eye, I promptly comprehend that the solution depended on – and pended upon – an Occamian razor; the most simple elucidative exercise was to link his (Quijote’s) culinary disasters and the natural and constant stains (manchas in Spanish) which bore witness to his anxious clumsiness, with his surname; it was all there, served, awaiting to be devoured; a cochinillo eager to be sliced open with a smooth porcelain dish.

“After being able to dwell in the Alam al-Mithal, I was able to intuit that the gentleman (hidalgo) with whom I surely share some portion of dust wherein he lies and into which I shall return, some cells, a handful of dreams and fantasies – or maybe I’ve already drank his own urine believing I was simply tasting a Cabernet from Mendoza – was a reckless eater: always, relentlessly, unavoidably, his sumptuous meals climaxed with the same (yet different) abstract motif painted on his garments, but with diverse colours and textures according to the eaten menu: a man-art; a living work-of-art-in-progress; a canvas to be painted by the vicissitudes of life and digestion; the ultimate metaphor of transformation and ad eternum creation. Thus I free my inner wind (released at last), and so I reach my final truth.”

The literary critic and French theoretician Jean Pierre Couspin, taking advantage of the delirious stir created by de la Muela, comments in the Sunday edition of Le Monde:

 “With the sole intention to add some drops of wisdom into professor’s González de la Muela observations, I would love to humbly comment that the famous surname de la Mancha might as well be, perchance, related to the fortuitous coincidence in regards to the date during which occurred the departure of both colossus of Hispanic and Anglo-Saxon letters; I am naturally referring to Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare. Both died during a springy day of April, precisely on the 23rd of 1616; even though it is true that Miguelito’s death was indeed registered solely a day before the date being affirmed in this humble piece – a minor detail which owes its existence only due to some bureaucratic ingenuities that were typically found in that old and forgotten Madrid.

“Both are, perchance, one and the same: Don Quixote is (was) a Cervantes who pretended to be Menard; de la Mancha is (was) Shakespeare. The Bard stained the fabric that once was a dress (read this for more insights about this fascinating topic); the perfect ellipsis: a geometrical symmetry that allows us to see how, in this particular case, Will surpasses the nobleman Cervantes: to be born and to die on the same day (though baptized on the 26th it is fair to assume that the Bard must have been initiated in the church rituals during the third day of his earthly existence – a proper resurrection indeed) is something reserved for very few (even note how the numeric mimics – or perhaps reflects – the factual: to die and to be born on the same day could very well be the work of chance or a distracted fate; but to see that very same duplication through those very numbers that ascertain the year of your death, perchance might also be brutal: 1616).

“Perhaps, in this dimension full of uncertainty yet with hints of unity, we might have to consider that de la Mancha could be a veiled reference to that famous episode – previously explained within the confines of this Opus Magnum – of premature ejaculation by the young and unskilled Sheikh Peer (old sage), who is (was) Shakespeare.

“Willy, Cervantes and don Quixote could (have been) be the same three-faced unity; a tripartite Janus (the third face being the sum of the opposing ones); a holy literary trinity blessed by the feathered muses. Three characters or personas bonded with a certain seminal stickiness… by a precocious destiny that stained the threads of the fate-rulers Norns, forever.”

On the other hand, an unknown voice in some ignored café in Buenos Aires shouted among croissants and cafés con leche and cut loafed sandwiches:

 “Che, to me, the Quixote is Nasrudin.

 

[1]           Sometimes these kind of written pseudo-jokes which need more of an explanation rather than a translation, lose their trick along the translative way; the author’s surname is de la Muela, which could be translated in English as from the molar tooth. It’s easy to see the connection with the use of wisdom and molar. If it is not clear, we don’t care.

[2]           And what a task the author of this shame of an article would have had to face if he were forced to justify his own surname and its more than unlikely molar origin.

[3]           In Spanish, the English Channel is referred to as the Stain Channel; Stain means Mancha, therefore the author will use these ambiguous semantic ways to construct his theory.

 

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