GLUTTONY

A Mad Dash Down Th'Esophagus



The Undersea Carnival Procession of the Fatted Ox by J.J. Grandville

Despite its long denouncement as a deadly sin, gluttony is something I take great pleasure in. Friend, there are few delights more enjoyable than the feel of a throat filled past capacity, pressed every which way from within by a grotesquely large chunk of thick bread. It is something to revel in when one has full access to and disposal of a knife, and yet refrains from mutilating a knot of spaghetti, preferring, instead, to choke the meal down. Some speak of savoring the deliciousness of every bite-- I say the full joy of food is not savored a bit in taking bites. Rather it can only be realized when the gullet is overflowing even as it strains to gulp down an unbitten mass, or, oftener, a mass so little masticated that it would be easy to call it unbitten. The flavor remains the same, and can be as extensively savored in a sudden guzzling as in a dainty nibbling.

And such a wide variety of foods there are to be devoured in such a manner! Of course, I, being a separate and sovereign human being, have my own preferred foods to swallow, and, hereunder shall attempt to explain which I enjoy and why.

"...put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite."
--Proverbs 23:2

food of the morbid

"I like eating sardines. They are the food of the morbid. Eating sardines is like eating little oily decapitated men. It's pretty cool, cuz when you cut them open, you can see the entirely intact spinal cord and all the vertebrae. and then you chomp them down, and the spinal cord snaps and the vertebrae are broken up in your mouth and ground into a fine fishy paste along with the oil and meat. And the skin is pretty nice too. It has a silvery sheen about it that makes you feel like you're eating little oily decapitated men from another planet who are wearing little oily silvery space jackets and stuff. It's cool."

Thus I wrote in a letter at 1:29 PM on the twenty-first of April, 1997. It's true. Not utterly consistent, as I occasionally am not in the mood for such salty fare, but true. Fish isn't always my cup of tea, but at times sardines do entertain me.

"I only sacrifice to myself -- to the gods never -- and to this belly of mine, the greatest of all the gods."
--Polyphemus

hungry germans eat

"After retiring to my seat, I received my Hausgemachte Bratwurst. The dish also came with sauerkraut and potatoes. I'm tellin' yew, them Germans =eat SOUR=. The potatoes, I tell yew, were at least TWICE as sour as the sauerkraut. I spread mustard over the bratwurst and ate it. Its flavor was dreamlike; waveringly real"

Another of my letters, this one dated Saturday, March the first, 1997. Among my most beloved of cuisines is that of the German people. They're not afraid of pickled cabbage, or pumpernickel, or pork. It's a real treat to crack half-charred sausage skins, afire with mustard, with dull teeth and pushing tongue. Then the ground flesh within is freed, and allowed passage to the tunnel of the gullet. It rules.

"Sine Cerere et Libero friget Venus"
[Without Ceres and Bacchus, Venus freezes]
--Terence

in thirty-six dishes are seventy-two diseases

So runs a "pessimistic Punjabi proverb". Fortunately for me, dining conditions in the United States are a little less dangerous. That, and the sheer overwhelming flavor of the stuff, is why I suck Indian food into my belly as if it were sweet milk (which some of it is, in essence-- lassi is a sweet yogurt dessert). The supreme among these foods is the pappadum, a thin, crispy lentil flatbread with a dry sort of tang, but saag paneer (A spinach and tofu dish) and malai kafta (cheese balls in a lovely sauce) are also beloved of me.

"A big man is always accused of gluttony, whereas a wizened or osseous man can eat like a refugee at every meal, and no one ever notices his greed."
--Robertson Davies, The Table Talk of Samuel Marchbanks

vortumnalia

The earth forever bears such vegetation! To take into one's mouth the fresh fibrous cases of green beans, snipping the husk with teeth and eating the lot raw and unwashed is a sacrament to the garden. Likewise can the chewing of alfalfa sprout, laden with the unmistakable scent of fertility, be described. And the moist dryness in an uncooked potato, bitten into and swallowed in blocks straightforth; this is as desirable. There is always a charm in the soily plants, a charm in their dustcaked fruits, that is lost in preparing them as foodstuffs.

"Like ane wi' thirstie appetite
Quha swalloweth orange pulp,
Wes hearde a huggle an a bite,
A swallow an a gulp."
--Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson), Ye Fattale Cheyse

"They Gave Him Bread and Butter" by Lewis Carroll, from "Lays of Sorrow".

the baker's tale

As earlier noted, the pressure of food upon the overexpanding gorge is perhaps most agreeable when this food is a leavened sort of bread, especially bagels or French bread. You see, gluttony is not often practiced upon crackers or matzoh (to my knowledge)... You would choke on all the dust and crumb they produce. But, with rising bread, the porous food takes moisture more easily, thus facilitating gulping. Some type of spread may be cloaked over the food material, mainly to lubricate the stuff as it forces itself down your dry throat.

Brazilians eating human flesh

"...I swar ter Gawd thet picter begun to make me hungry fer victuals I couldn't raise nor buy--here, set still, what's ailin' ye?--I didn't do nothin', only I wondered haow 'twud be ef I did--They say meat makes blood an' flesh an' gives ye new life, so I wondered ef 'twudn't make a man live longer an' longer ef 'twas more the same--"
--H. P. Lovecraft, "The Picture in the House"

long pig

Ah, yes. The wonderful world of cannibalism. Although I have (understandably) yet to actually eat the body and blood of another human being, I sincerely wish to do so sometime in the future. The only problems are: a) How am I going to obtain the flesh, given my aversion to murder? and b) The terrifying possibility that it "tastes just like chicken."

"My parents are all dead, and they have left me but a small pension, and that buys me thirty meals a day. Now Faustus..., wilt thou bid me to dinner?"
--Gluttony (from Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe)

a note

It is not gluttony when you have eaten a bowl of General Mills' frosted Lucky Charms cereal and, immediately afterwards, desire another bowl. It is lust.