Friday, September 30, 2005


Remember the commercial about the butter-basted turkey that used to come on television every year about this time? The commercial featured the plump, golden brown flesh on the firm body of a gracefully presented turkey, while the announcer described in sultry tones how warm butter had been made to melt and flow over the breasts and legs of the delicious creature. By the time the commercial was finished, viewers sat transfixed, staring at their televisions, unsure if the feelings that had been elicited by the ad had to do with hunger or lust. It is not clear what the ad did for the sale of turkeys, but demographics would undoubtedly show that the months following the appearance of the ad saw an increase in the population.
That commercial marks what may well have been the first flirtatious overtures in the love affair with food which aging baby-boomers have carried on over the past ten or fifteen years, a love affair which more recently has crosses the boundaries from a sweet courtship to a torrid love affair. Once in the forefront of the sexual revolution, survivors of the era that held a special reverence for that cook-book of love, the Kama Sutra, the Boomers are now realizing that their physical prowess is going to pot. Reluctant to give up the pleasures of the flesh, they have turned their prodigious appetites and need for physical satisfaction to the oral gratification of food. The craving for free love has become a craving for complimentary business lunches; clarified butter has replaced warmed patchouli oil. Whipped cream is now judged for its flavor and texture rather than for its spreadability.
Restaurants - those gastronomical erogenous zones of an insatiable generation - are especially guilty of having become culinary bordellos of comestible delights. Listen as we ask our server to tell us about the steamed asparagus: "They have been lovingly prepared," he murmurs, "until they are ready for your enjoyment; firm, yet tender, their tips delicately dipped in a tangy, lemon-butter sauce." And how do we eat the artichoke? "Peel away and suck each delicious leaf until the young, tender heart is revealed in all its luscious glory." And the olive oil which he sprinkles on the cool, crisp leaves of the side salad? Extra virgin, a futile pleonastic image if ever there was one.
But perhaps the most flagrant gustatory exhibitionism is to be found in the promotional literature that accompanies the savor fetish of the fading flower children. With suggestive titles such as "The Insider's Report", readers of these tempation tracts are treated to a virtual cornucopia of alluring foods and delicious recipes, all presented with a soft-porn flavour that promise "sumptuous cheesecakes", "wickedly wonderful" chocolate chip cookies, "luscious" banana cream fillings, and a instant hot white chocolate which is "silky, creamy and as white as the driven snow." Here is an ice cream which is "Sophisticated and seductive all at once." Should you eat it or marry it? And while to decide where to dip your spoon, the cheesecake will continue to tempt you away, promising that once you have involved yourself with it, you will be "drawn back, irresistibly, for more and more."
Gone is the anemic tofu, the gaseous bean, the celibate celery and the limp lentil, replaced by the warming embrace of chocolate fondues, the loving nibbles of cheddar cheese slices, and the amorous foreplay of chocolate-dipped strawberries served with an impertinent but feisty little white wine.
The sexual conquests of the sixties may be nothing more than fading memories now, but they have been replaced by the equally sensuous, all-encompassing intimacy of culinary orgies.
You’ve got to hand it to the Boomers: they still know how to get it on, even if it is only on buttery sourdough bread.
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