Holiday-ing Is Bitter And Sweet


April 19, 1992|By ROB KASPER

What this country needs is a food holiday. A feast day on which you could experience the delights of dining without fretting over the long-term ramifications of what you just ate.

It would be a day, for example, when a person would be more inclined to appreciate the beauty of the outside of an egg than to worry about the amount of cholesterol on its insides.

On this day, poets could celebrate the egg as bread binder, meringue maker, mousse lifter. Politicians could hold the egg up as a model of coagulation, a process that seems to have been forgotten lately, pushed aside both in sauce making and in society by fragmentation.

Businessmen could tout the egg as an exemplar of the versatile worker, the team player who endlessly transforms liquids into moist solids. Grammarians -- quoting a French gourmet -- would say that "The egg is to cuisine what the article is to speech."

On this great day an average eater -- freed from worries arterial -- might contemplate matters philosophical. He might see the egg, for example, as a symbol of rebirth. He might remember the words of historian Waverley Root that almost all creatures who walk this globe -- including humans -- are produced from eggs.

There would be fresh vegetables, like spinach and asparagus, served on this holiday. The trendy thing to do to vegetables is to squeeze them in a juicer. This process quickly extracts the vitamins from the vegetables. The imbiber can then toss down a few shots of vegetable juice and sprint back into life's fast lane.

On this holiday, there would be no such vegetable shooters. Instead the vegetables would be served in whole-body form, and eaten at a languid pace.

In addition to the fact that steamed asparagus stalks taste better than asparagus aperitifs, this holiday would honor vegetables that have sprung to life from the once-dead earth.

If asparagus can defeat winter torpor, maybe we can, too.

There would be chocolate, lots of chocolate on this holiday. And folks would simply revel in its flavor and not even mention the flap over whether eating chocolate does or does not help prevent tooth decay.

Kids would love this holiday. They would remember it as the day that their parents let them gorge on sugary delights. These same delights in normal times would be either forbidden or tightly rationed.

And the kids would notice that the supposed steely resolve of parental willpower weakens on this day. The older kids would link the downfall of parental willpower to the appearance of one-eared chocolate bunnies.

There would be some call for the mixing of the bitter with the sweet on this holiday. It is not a bad idea, but the generations have varying opinions on what is unpleasant.

For the oldsters, bitter means swallowing some horseradish, or tolerating a visiting in-law. For the youngsters, discomfort comes from wearing new clothes or, worse yet, posing for a family


The main dishes served at this feast will vary from household to household. Some will serve lamb, some ham. Fish fans will serve shad. Controlling cooks will serve chicken, but swept away in the indulgent holiday mood of the moment they will allow the fat-laden skin to remain on the bird. Just this once.

There will be homemade breads, blooming flowers and bubbling beverages served at this feast.

Late in the day as folks squeeze out of their holiday duds, some will pause to make an assessment. Kids who find that their bodies are too big for their clothes will be happy. For them, the unbuttonable button is a sign of growth -- proof that they are making progress.

For adults the unwilling button is more often a cause of distress. A signal that time is passing and things are sliding, settling into new spots.

But since this holiday will be in the spring, there will be a sense of hope in the air.

Which gets around to its name. Some might call it Easter. Some might call it Passover.

I think I would call it "Start Over."

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