Thursday, September 20, 2007

First Reaction: Cuisine de Grand-mère and Not So Grand Mair

Well, possums, as anyone who's ever seen The Triplets of Belleville will tell you, having a French grandmother can make all the difference of the world. One must never underestimate Mamie dearest.

And Casey Thompson's Mamie certainly came through for her, inspiring Casey's chicken dish, even if the name (and the pronunciation, ouch!) were a bit of a coq-up. And even though tough old birds* faulted her for not using a tough old bird, we don't fall in that camp. As some of you may have discovered at some point in your lives, possums, coq is occasionally difficult to come by, no matter how much vin is involved.

But you know, there is one thing that gave us pause and made us uneasy, namely, the condemnation by all and sundry of Hung Huynh as being a technical wizard but lacking soul. Perhaps we just have sensitive noses, but we detected the whiff of (perhaps unconscious?) racial stereotypes of Asians as emotionless automatons. We thought immediately of an article by classical music critic Alex Ross that we read in The New Yorker in April:

In the classical-music world of ten or fifteen years ago, you heard intermittent murmurs of unease about the number of Asian performers who were showing up on the rolls of conservatories, in the ranks of orchestras, and on concert stages. The oft-repeated criticism was that these players showed great technical dexterity but lacked the mysteries of “depth” and “soul.” Such talk had an unsavory taste....

As does the talk about Hung lacking "heart" and "soul." Well, he is bisexual, so undoubtedly the heartless part is correct. But the rest of it does smack of something unattractive, even if it's not sinister. It's a way of dismissing those who are better than you: what I do may be a mess, but at least it's got heart. "Heart," whatever the schmaltzy term means, seems to be of paramount importance in our country. Emotional truth trumps all else, and cannot be questioned. Laziness, idiocy, lack of skill, and lack of competence can all be forgiven and covered up with "heart," with "gut instinct," which is why we're asked to elect the candidate we'd most like to have a beer with, and to "trust" our leaders, especially when they have "gut instincts" and can look into the "hearts" of Russian tyrants.

But we digress, possums, and we'd better stop ranting before we find ourselves unwittingly quoting Ayn Rand, who is not our cup of tea (though she is a good deal of camp fun, especially the movie adaptation she wrote of The Fountainhead, starring Patricia Neal and Gary Cooper, a phallic pneumatic drill, Miss Neal's pneumatic breasts, and a beautiful and no doubt unintended homoerotic subtextual love affair between Gary Cooper and Raymond Massey).

*We kid, possums. We have the utmost respect for André Soltner and the rest of the FCI panel. Just read David Kamp’s The United States of Arugula to get a sense of the watershed importance of Soltner’s restaurant, Lutèce.

9 comments:

Ms. Place said...

As usual, funny, pointed, biting, and truthful. One of your best posts yet.

Simple said...

I may just be too slow here. Was the comment about "heartless" bisexuals supposed to be for humor?

ArtfulSub said...

"Money is the barometer of a society's virtue."

Ayn Rand

"Even the brainless hacks at Bravo couldn't find a way to screw up this episode."

Me

Anonymous said...

do you guys *have* to reference the triplets of belleville? that's a stupid animated movie that has nothing of interest in it, one of the most overrated things i've seen in my life. honestly, guys, you usually do a good job of looking smart on here, it's like bringing up "pleasantville" or something and thinking you're making an allusion of some kind. the coq jokes are great though!

george said...

it's the sociopolitically honest posts like this that set your blog apart. much appreciated

mumblesalot (Laura A) said...

I appreciated your observations and the link. I really hadn't thought about the comment of the food lacking heart. Thanks!

Bao said...

Thank you for this - it seems like no one else is noticing the subtle and not-so-subtle racism lurking in people's attitudes towards Hung. Or should we say, conscious and not-so-conscious racism?

I noticed in Gail's blog, she mentioned that Sara M leaving meant that Casey was the only woman left. But Sara M leaving *also* means that Hung is the only person of color left in the competition.

hughman said...

having eaten at le cirque a number of times (my BFF is Sergo's godchild) i will say the fish and potato dish is good but not IMHO the best thing on the menu.it is, as hung said, one of the simpler dishes on the menu.

and bao let's not forget that dale is also the only openly gay member of the final team as well. another minority not noted.

Bao said...

Hughman - forgive me if i'm wrong, but isn't Hung self-identified as bisexual?