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Culinary language

Culinary language

When I started writing about the kitchen and brought back memories of my childhood cooking (clearly I was a girl almost as early as Tita, that character from “Like water for Chocolate” who learned everything from the hands of his faithful maid Nacha), I decided to explore the characteristics of culinary discourse. Two things surprised me; First of all, unlike academic writing, in culinary it is not necessary to bear witness to anything. Everything seems to be transmitted orally from mothers to daughters and, except for the sixteen-course banquet (with ice cream dessert, among others) that the three Emperors (Tsar Alexander II, his son, the future Alexander III, the Kaiser William I, and the less real, but very powerful Bismark ) shared on June 7, 1867 at Café Anglais de Paris, on account of the Universal Exhibition, we have no reliable evidence of almost any of the historical accounts that are told about the history of cooking. I, by pure professional deformation, tend to refer the reader to the Internet pages or books where I have documented; but if it did not, it would be the same, because in this field it does not seem that anyone cares or worries, in the least, the documents that confirm its veracity.

The second finding was the use of persuasive and complacent language; In this sense, those who write about culinary recipes resemble the creators of advertising spots where the product is always “wonderful”, “delicious”, “exquisite”, “spectacular”, “succulent” and other string of niceties very positive; gastronomic literature is, without a doubt, the art of convincing readers about the goodness of the dishes presented. So, rhetoric (like the art of persuading) and cooking go hand in hand. At first, and in contrast to my previous way of working, it was difficult for me to adapt to such an exaggerated self-promotion, but I soon realized that it was part of the persuasive intention of this genre, whose conventions I had to abide by, as I had accepted that onion should not be noticed in the risotto. However, I have to reveal that, in my case, I have never tried to praise any culinary preparation of whose goodness I myself was not previously convinced.

Have I ever thought about what would happen if I included in an academic article some of the adjectives that I commonly use in the kitchen, or gave opinions about the historical origin of certain dishes, p. ex .: “The result of this investigation is spectacular”, “The Aztecs tattooed the Spanish irregular verbs to understand the conquerors,” Noah elaborated in the ark the first pedagogy for foreign languages ​​”,” Noam Chomsky articulated all his generative grammar to give him in the snouts to some envious colleagues “, etc. Without a doubt, the publisher would have taken me for mad and possibly would respond to my request for publication with a laconic: “Not accepted”. And really, if I said such things, maybe my “impact” would have been surprisingly increased! Isn’t that what you are looking for? “And it is that in the kitchen we play with superlative adjectives and legends and myths in the same way that we do with ingredients, flavors, textures, and even the polychromy of presentations, subjectively and creatively, that’s why I’m so comfortable in this world of cooking.

It is curious that this reflection arose from my mention of “Abraham as the first consumer of ice cream since the world is world”; and once it was written, I was stunned by such audacity, but I immediately reacted and told myself that nobody would put their hands to their heads, since in the gastronomic world the fact that Abraham was a pioneer in ice cream parlor is more known that “the bad time” that happened with his son Isaac; And besides, who am I to question your taste for ice cream? Without a doubt, I must thank this biblical character, who I have never had great appreciation for, for obvious reasons, the thought that the culinary text, far from having a scientific, objective and rigorous purpose, is quite the opposite, is the opposite, is a universal story that appeals to feelings of the collective imagination; And, it is also universal because it is an essential part of the “novel” of humanity.

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