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::: center home >> being here >> last donut? >> food


Fellows meeting, March 4, 2015

When the Fellows meet for our weekly reading group, we always have food. It sets a mood. We are not workers in the mill, cranking out intellectual product for a consumer market. We are friends, meeting together in the spirit of communal support as we explore new ideas and discoveries.

The food selection can be a little limited. Vegetarians among the Fellows will be excluded if we have the flesh of animals. That undermines the point of it all. It is not inclusive. This year is unusual, however. There are no vegetarians. I can experiment. The Fellows this year have a definite preference for salty. That set the direction.

A few years ago, I’d brought in beef jerky. It had been interesting. Europeans do not quite have the same food sensibilities as North Americans, I discovered. Chewy, dried slabs of beef are not a familiar item in their diets. The jerky was inspected, as one would an unusual specimen, and it was politely shunned.

Even though most Fellows this year are Europeans, somehow I felt things might be different. So the Fellows arrived to a nice display of beef jerky and crunchy things. It was different this year. The Fellows settled into the jerky as you would into a comfy sofa. It seems that dried, chewy flesh arises as a snack outside North America as well.

The challenge had now been issued. Their culinary tastes must be explored and the limits found. But how? I pondered and soon I had the answer: pork rinds! If you don’t know them, there is no way to soften the truth. They are pieces of the skins of pigs that, when cooked (in oil we believe), inflate and look like crispy snacks. I say “we believe” since the ingredient list did not include oil.

What goes with pork rinds? Again, I needed to think. Pineapple!

So that was the offering for last week.

How did it go? I did find the limit. Some Fellows managed the pork rinds quite well. Others confided that it was one step too far for them. I also found my own limits. Pork rinds look like a crispy snack. And the initial feel in the mouth is of a light and airy, crunchy thing. But moments later the sensation changes. There is an intense smokiness and then the heavy grease of a pig. It is not a bad experience to have. . . once.

What should I do next week? It was time to retreat from the limits. Sara came to my rescue. She had a rather lovely chocolate log, with cherry and hazelnut filling. She would bring that to today’s meeting. I will bring grapes. Joyce laid it all out in a very attractive display and we settled into our chair for our meeting.

The log was cast in a mold taken from a piece of wood. The surface was chocolate. Or was it “chocolatey”? That means “brown, shiny, sweet stuff that looks like chocolate but isn’t.” This triggered a close examination of the packaging.

In any case, the log was soon dissected and the slices passed round. They disappeared faster than any of the provisions I could remember.

We could then turn to the serious business of the day. The Fellows had insisted that I provide a reading of my latest paper on the incompleteness of calculi of inductive inference. Wayne took to the whiteboard and had his five minutes. Then the Fellows turned to the delicate matter of explaining to me that readers of my paper will likely not have any idea of what I am talking about.

John D. Norton



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