“A cigar is sometimes just a cigar,” said Sigmund Freud. But sometimes people feel compelled to read way more into things than they should. It reminds me of the ridiculousness of some college classes trying to reinterpret hundred and thousand year old works for queer theory and whatnot. Sometimes a story is just a story.
Sometimes, too, a recipe is just a recipe. I was reading a cooking website the other night and noticed there is a new cookbook coming out dedicated to “The Resistance.” It combines food and progressive activism. Another cookbook coming out is called “America.” The publisher, Phaidon, specializes in cookbooks that are massive compendiums of a nation’s cuisine. I have their books for Italy, Mexico and Scandinavia. Each is at least four inches thick. The Italian is at least five inches thick.
The new cookbook “America,” by Gabrielle Langholtz, will be out in October. It covers the wide melting pot of American dishes from Tex-Mex to Cajun to Cuban to the California Kitchen style cooking and, of course, the heartland. I would not particularly care about any of this except for the review of the cookbook I read on the eater.com website.
“In practice…especially considering the political climate in which it’s being published, the book falls flat. There's a wide range of recipes, but it doesn’t feel as inclusive as a book about American food should in today’s world,” the reviewer wrote. Huh? The cookbook covers the local cuisine of each state. I am not sure what the difference between an LGBT fried catfish and a heterosexual fried catfish is, but if one is covering Southern cuisine, fried catfish is going to be in there.
A political climate should not dictate what is and is not in a cookbook. Food should be the one area where we can all, regardless of political opinions, find common ground. But I dare say the passionate arguments around food are more heated with more on the line than the typical American political argument these days. Whether Republicans are racist or Antifa is as fascist as the fascists is child’s play compared to whether one should put sugar in homemade cornbread. If you are black, you probably do. If you are white, you probably don’t. The former is far better than the latter because that’s how my mother was taught to cook it, but don’t tell my wife.
The color of a roux is far more important than President Trump’s latest tweet because that roux is going to form a pot of gumbo — and that pot of gumbo is going to bring people together instead of pushing them apart. Inevitably, someone will declare the roux not dark enough. It always happens. The argument is won by the person who stood and stirred for 30 non-stop minutes.
Food should not be political. It should be good, preferably grown as close to you as possible, and cooked as quickly after harvesting as possible. It should be plated around a table with eating utensils and no electronic devices. It should be consumed with prayer and good manners and finished with laughter.
I would rather eat a meal with a radical leftist who can tell a good story than with a humorless conservative. I’d rather eat with an atheist who can laugh than a Christian who can’t. And you should too.
When we look to food as an extension of politics, we are devaluing community. The table and the plate should be neutral country where we can set aside differences and find commonality and argue over the important stuff — like the best flavor of ice cream.
Erick Erickson is a Fox News contributor and radio talk show host in Atlanta.