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Sunday, 30 May 2010

Book Find.

Roast beef. medium: the business adventure of Emma McChesney by Edna Ferber, 1913.

      Roast Beef, Medium, is not only a food. It is a philosophy.
      Seated at Life's Dining Table, with the Menu of Morals before you, your eye wanders a bit over the entrees, the hors d'oeuvres, and the things a la, though you know that Roast Beef, Medium, is safe, and sane, and sure. It agrees with you. As you hesitate there sounds in your ear a soft and insinuating Voice.
      "You'll find the tongue in aspic very nice today," purrs the Voice. "May I recommend the chicken pie, country style? Perhaps you'd relish something light and tempting. Eggs Benedictine. Very fine. Or some flaked crab meat, perhaps. With a special Russian sauce."
      Roast Beef, Medium! How unimaginative it sounds. How prosaic, and dry! You cast the thought of it aside with the contempt that it deserves, and you assume a fine air of the epicure as you order. There are set before you things encased in pastry; things in frilly paper trousers; things that prick the tongue; sauces that pique the palate. There are strange vegetable garnishings, cunningly cut. This is not only Food. These are Viands.
      "Everything satisfactory?" inquires the insinuating Voice.
      "Yes," you say, and take a hasty sip of water. That paprika has burned your tongue. "Yes. Check, please."
      You eye the score, appalled. "Look here! Aren't you over-charging!"
      "Our regular price," and you catch a sneer beneath the smugness of the Voice." It is what every one pays, sir."
      You reach deep, deep into your pocket, and you pay. And you rise and go, full but not fed. And later as you take your fifth Moral Pepsin Tablet you say Fool! and Fool! and Fool!
      When next we dine we are not tempted by the Voice. We are wary of weird sauces. We shun the cunning aspics. We look about at our neighbor's table. He is eating of things French, and Russian and Hungarian. Of food garnished, and garish and greasy. And with a little sigh of content and resignation we settle down to our Roast Beef, Medium.
E. F.
Posted at 7:38 pm

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