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Masterchef

Metaphorically Speaking

This week our resident foodie David Blanks indulges in the delicious world of succulent semantics and food-based metaphors….

As a foodist I rather liked the fact that, in his recent Time interview, the president of Egypt described the world as a “spaghetti-like structure.” Not sure what he meant by that, but never mind; the world would be a better place if we tried to understand it through food metaphors.

Take tiramisu, for example. It is the perfect metaphor for the revolution. Some say the Italian word means “pick me up,” as in the dessert is so amazing it lifts you to heaven. But for those who know Italian another translation might very well be “shoot me now.” Take your choice.

Okay this is fun. And you can play along at home.

A koshari-like structure is how I would describe our bureaucracy: layers of heavy, starchy carbs disguised with bitter vinegar, burnt onions, and hot sauce that take up illegal residence in your gut for ages until painfully expelled from the system when you least expect it.

Traffic is KFC chicken. Some days it’s good; some days it’s horrible—but you never know what you’ll get until you open the bag. Mini-bus drivers are leboos. (Not a food metaphor, but I couldn’t resist, and they can’t be avoided.)

Felool, obviously, is derived from fuul, remnants of which have been found in pharaonic tombs. Usually served in slippery oil, Egypt will always have them. (Just as obvious is the spring dish fisikh, with its rancid odor, but you can work that one out on your own.)

The economy is stale, the constitution cooked, the courts frozen, crime simmering, unemployment mushrooming, and violence boiling over. Consequently, the quality of life lacks the flavor it once had.

Foreign policy is cotton candy: it looks good but has no substance; personal freedoms have been entirely consumed; and the public mood swings back and forth from anorexic to bulimic. After this heavy meal of hopes and disappointments, what we really need is a healthy diet and a new national nutritionist.

It’s all a bit hard to swallow.

My philosophy of cooking is a simple one: get the freshest ingredients you can buy and don’t fuck them up. We don’t need the sauces and the garnishes. We don’t need imported herbs and spices. We definitely don’t need any fast food solutions. We need soul food.

We have all the homegrown talent to construct this dish in a fulfilling fashion, but cooking takes time. In my heart-of-hearts I sincerely believe that Egypt has some master chefs with the wisdom, taste and experience to create a feast for all. Let’s get them into the kitchen. Bel hana we’l shif’a.

(Thank you my hippie princess, my tasty muse, for this delicious idea . . .)