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On the Mysteries of Puritanism (or why does the name "Savonarola" provoke a longing for barbecue?)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dietitians are the cowled monks of today's religion, one that celebrates culinary self-restraint the way older ones celebrated morality. It's an oddly self-indulgent church that substitutes "health" for "piety," but it's still the same story: bliss can only be achieved through purity. While their science is respectable, it is too often served in an entirely humorless and otherwise unappetizing fashion. I’m not jealous that prohibitionists get some sort of joy from their peculiar addiction to non-addiction -- nor do I have any desire to join in their incomprehensible obsession.

It's difficult to understand the joy that some people seem to take in the gastronomic equivalent of self-flagellation, the mortification of one’s own flesh via non-consumption of tasty viands. Their smug self-satisfied proselytizing robs the very air of any pleasures it might hold for an appreciative nose. The promise of carnal bliss conjured by the aroma of a perfectly-grilled steak -- a vast glistening slab of proteinaceous pulchritude, encircled by crisply browned fat -- are banished, forthwith, as the temptations of a baser instinct, a crude and unenlightened coarseness that is as disgusting as it is unforgivable.

But there are even more vexing questions.

Why are these true believers always so deadly boring to be around? Nothing about them suggests the presence of wit or any other form of human comaraderie. Is brilliance and bonhomie dependent on sugar, saturated fat, and ethyl alcohol in the diet?

Why does encouraging self-deprivation in others translate to self-righteous satisfaction for them?

In short, how does the absence of pleasure pleasure them?

We may never learn the answers, but one thing is certain:  A lion-sized portion of well-roasted beast , followed by a thick wedge (or two) of fat- and calorie-laden cake -- not to mention a flagon (or three) of ale -- usually makes the sermonizing much easier to swallow.


5 Comments:

Anonymous Cynthia Bertelsen said...

Amen, and this applies to a lot more than just food ... .

August 31, 2012 at 6:06 AM  
Blogger Gary Allen said...

You're preachin' to the choir, Cynthia -- but I'll raise you an amen and halleluja.

Let's just say that "steak, cake and ale" are metaphors (or euphemisms) for whatever gives us pleasure, and would be denied us by those of a puritanical bent.

August 31, 2012 at 11:08 AM  
Blogger Linda Mazur said...

Despite a puritanical bent and possible association with the Devil, Savanarola designed a heavenly chair for which he is deservedly revered.
Most satisfying to the sense.

September 26, 2012 at 6:31 PM  
Blogger Gary Allen said...

If he was really thinking ahead, he would have made the chair fire-proof.

December 29, 2012 at 4:17 PM  
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July 30, 2015 at 11:41 PM  

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