Sunday, December 07, 2003

Our Daily Steak

I read, recently, that bakers have taken an economic hit because of the late Dr Atkins' pandemic "low carb" diet. (Yes, I have a beef with his diet. And I'm not too chicken to call it hogwash. There's something very fishy about how folks are following it like sheep.) I'm sorry. I had to say that. I've imagined a sandwich made out of five kinds of animals, which I would call The Slaughterhouse Five. The McSlaughterhouse Five.

But back to bread and the poor bakers. It's such a pity. Breaking bread is so much more civilized and peaceful than barbecue. Of course, I am biased. I am a vegan, and this is Paula's House of Toast, not Paula's Steak House. Bakers are apparantly trying to devise "low carb" bread. Made out of what ? Pork ?

Surprisingly, it's not always easy for a vegan to find bread that's free of all animal products. Many types of bread contain whey, egg white and honey, not to mention polysyllabic dough conditioners that may or may not be animal-derived. My bread life got a lot simpler when I stopped worrying about those.

If one doubts even for a second the redemptive power of carbohydrates, one needs but turn to literature: first, to Italo Calvino's story "Theft in a Pastry Shop," and then to Raymond Carver's "A Small, Good Thing."

The Lord's prayer notwithstanding, one can probably find a scriptural basis for the Atkins diet (or anything, for that matter.) God himself showed a carnivorous preference for Abel's burnt offering of "firstlings of the flock" -- baby lamb and veal, for goodness sakes -- over Cain's "fruits of the ground." This has always interested me. Cain, after all, was a farmer. He offered the best of what he had. And was rejected. This gets glossed over in the haste to get to the juicy fratricidal parts.

I suppose the theological take-home message is "Life isn't fair, buddy. Deal with it." Or, "I am omnipotent, do not question my ways." Or, "I'm God. If I wanna set you up for failure, who's gonna stop me ?"

One could even argue that Cain was blessed with the bigger challenge -- the juicier, more advanced koan. Which, of course, he immediately and spectacularly flunked. But still, YHWH considered Cain an advanced enough student to lay it on him. That's got to count for something.

He'll try the koan out again, later, on Job.

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