E Pluribus Unam so it still says on our money.
I haven’t carried coins in so long I had to check to make sure.
One country with many many sources and origins.
I ran across this use of words today in a sentence describing the United States.
Writing on the concept of E Pluribus Unam and ‘the inclusion of the excluded’, Jorge Castañeda Gutman in his book, America through Foreign Eyes, writes that “This homogeneity sublimated an underlying diversity.”
Feeding the phrase word by word in the Google I can reconstruct this as saying:
The quality or state of being all the same or all of the same kind diverted or modified into a culturally higher or socially more acceptable activity as a cause or basis for the practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds.
Say that three times fast.
I think it boils down to the duck analogy.
Gliding along the surface, paddling like hell underneath.
Mr. Gutnam was writing how foreign observers have both historically and recently came away with a feeling that the United States is all so much the same place with same quality of sameness.
Mr. Gutnam quotes the eminent Jean-Paul Satre (showing my own ignorance of his value, I have to observe that had Jean-Paul’s first name been Butch, his work would not be talked about today … but I digress) when Satre wrote about America:
“Life is so standardized here that I found no significant difference between the menus of luxury restaurants and the canteens. In restaurants, you pay mostly for cutlery, the service, and the atmosphere, but no matter where you go you find, whether it is in the “Automats” or the dining room of the great hotels, the same green peas whose color is so garish that you think they were hand-painted, the same unsalted white beans which are served in little dishes, the same brown and odd looking gravy; it is semi-sweet, semi salty, and they spread it on a refrigerated piece of beef. To finish up, the worker, just like his boss, eats a big piece of sponge cake with cream or an “ice cream”. They drink the same chlorinated ice water and the same bad coffee.”
The text I am quoting notes that the word “Ice Cream” is in ENGLISH is Satre’s original French essay.
A couple of things here.
One, this essay was written in the middle of World War 2 when all restaurant fare was on the down side.
Two, that being understood, I will agree with the essay for the most part.
The CHAIN or FRANCHISE restaurant has insured that a steak or hamburger or southern-fried-chicken is the same whether you are in a KFC in Duluth, Minnesota or Duluth, Georgia.
I remember a conversation with a friend years ago who pointed out that you drive down the street and see all these different restaurants and varieties of food and then drive down the alley behind the restaurants and the same Gordon Foods or Sysco truck is delivering to all of them.
Third, I find it fascinating that Mr. Satre focused on food.
Where is America more diverse that at its dining room table?
And we all to have eat.
Somewhere along the line as my wife and I built a family of seven adopted kids I asked one of many social workers if they had any advice.
“Love them through their stomachs,” was the reply.
I have always been fascinated by food.
I tell folks who are interested and those who aren’t but are stuck talking with me, that I was starting in school I would somehow develop of course of study on food through history.
The taste of honey from day one to today.
Flavour, texture, cooking and the Boston School of Measurement.
Much as I loved how in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Beethoven wanders into a music store in a mall and immediately adapts to an electronic keyboard, I want to see Thomas Jefferson in a modern kitchen.
Look at cookbooks!
I have a long history of working in bookstores, libraries and publishing.
When all else fails, bring out a cookbook.
I have seen and read so many cookbooks I finally came up with MIKES LAW OF COOKBOOKS.
For a cookbook to be a good cookbook it must have ONE good recipe you have made more than once.
Want to know something?
There are a lot of BAD cookbooks out there.
Kind of a scary word and a dangerous one and maybe even a misunderstood one.
Lets just use to look at our food.
When I moved south I embraced southern cooking and learned that Southern Cooking down here was what we called Soul Food up North.
I learned how to cook collards (kinda, my daughter Lauren does them better) black eyed peas (with hog jowls at New Years for good luck) and the best biscuits ever.
I try and try but I just don’t like grits.
As a fringe benefit of the NEW south, living in Atlanta we also added Korean Bulgari Beef and Romanian Mici to the recipe list.
Now we are in the Low Country.
A part of South Carolina and Georgia known for being barely above sea level.
So guess what, with a focus on sea food.
Never have I had so much shrimp, scallops, gumbo and hush puppies.
Celebrate this homogeneity sublimated an underlying diversity of FOOD.
Celebrate the quality or state of being all the same or all of the same kind diverted or modified into a culturally higher or socially more acceptable activity as a cause or basis for the practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds with food!
Being diverse together.
Love this country and its people through our stomachs.
And pass that Louisiana Remoulade sauce for the Maryland crab cakes.