Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Gluttony of Delicacy II

In our essay published earlier,  The Gluttony of Delicacy, we gave a candid-camera account of an actual instance of this, which took place, not long ago, in the refectory of an Agency that Does Not Exist (the ADNE, to its adepts).

Herewith some literary forerunners:

Dorothy Parker, Here Lies (1939), p.  85:
She told people, in little bursts of confidence, that she loved flowers.  There was something almost apologetic in her way of uttering her tender avowal, as if she would beg her listeners not to consider her too bizarre in her taste.

Cf. Mme. Verdurin in Un Amour de Swann.

Dorothy Parker, Here Lies (1939), p.  314:
     The maid returned with an octagonal tray supporting a decander of brandy  and a wide, squat, heavy glass.  Her [mistress Lily’s] head twisted on her neck in a spasm of diffidence.
            “Just pour it for me, will you, my dear?” said Lily … “And leave the pretty, pretty decanter here, on this enchanting little table.”

That mute immutable detail of the squat glass  hints at what is really going on beneath the flutter and titter.  On the next page we read:

She grasped the decanter; and again the squat glass was brown to the brim.

(This is how Parker  habitually writes:  a poetess  in prose.)

Dorothy Parker, Here Lies (1939), p. 360:
Her heart, soft and sweet as a perfectly made crème renversée …
[Note:  the Murphy Brothers, two-fisted private eyes, once had to deal with such a client ... and did so in an unexpectedly tender way:  "Don't Mention It".  Available on Kindle, Nook, or in hard-copy as part of the story collection I Don't Do Divorce Cases.]


A former CP activist, working his passage as a “workaway”  on a passenger-ship headed to Russia (where peasants were starving):

I went up willingly to carry trays of cakes to the passengers … I held the trayt under their noses, but they took so long to decide what kind of cake they wanted, that I got sicker and sicker.  Suddenly  I put down the tray on the serving table  and ran out to the railing.  Vomiting, and feeling a fresh wind in my face, relieved me sufficiently  to go back to the dining room  and resume serving tea …
-- Bertram Wolfe,  A Life in Two Centuries (1981), p. 309

That was first-class.  By contrast,

Waiting on the tourist class was easy. … They didn’t pick at their food, but had real appetites, and ate everything on their plates,  even mopping up the gravy  with a piece of bread.
-- Bertram Wolfe,  A Life in Two Centuries (1981), p. 311


Headline in the American media, Dec 2011:

            The Pampered Chef
            Discover the chef in you !

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