product review

God Won’t Be The Wiser

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i’ve been contemplating allowing my Saveur subscription to lapse, in part because it is a touch expensive ($27.97 plus some brutal Canadian shipping charges = money i could be spending on -actual food-), and in part because Bon Appetit is approximately one third the price (apparently they are offering me a “professional rate” subscription, about which i was unduly excited until i did the comparison and noticed it’s only like 2 dollars cheaper than the lay rate), and as of this past spring, the former style editor of GQ, Adam Rapoport, has been taken on as their new editor. needless to say, my interest is piqued.

but lo, of course as such thoughts are swimming through my head, the new issue of Saveur (which admittedly is not the magazine it once was) has to come out and charm the pants half off me by having an entire article on onions, a food trend update on the resurgence (or perhaps just surgence) of brussels sprouts, and a piece on wet-hopped harvest ales (which i didn’t know existed, am mesmerized by the idea of, and have tasted three of which since, only to be vaguely underwhelmed). their bit on Eastern-European soups also had this great note about the little dumplings in Swabian Maultaschensuppe, that are also known as Herrgottsbescheißerle, or “little ones to cheat the lord.” the name is supposed to derive from the monks of the Maubronne monastery (whose other claim to fame being that a young Herman Hesse once tried to commit suicide there) ‘hiding’ meat in pockets of dough during Lent on the rationale that it would disguise the act of rebellion from God.

it’s an appealing story, but it has either been wildly exaggerated over time, or those monks are totally awesome. because really, if true, it is more than just funny, it is implicitly heretical – not so much because because it makes a total mockery of Lent, but also because it contravenes the doctrine of divine omniscience, which is a pretty ballsy theological move to make just to pretend you’re getting away with eating meat. i would argue that it has such an aura of the ridiculous that it’s hard not to detect in it a note of spite (like Camus’s “there is no fate that cannot be overcome by scorn”), or at least irreverence (which in this context may be worse). and if we’re accepting that the Dude Who Created The Universe can’t see beneath a paper-thin layer of dough, i suppose it’s not such a stretch to assume that he was maybe in the can the entire time you were preparing the dish.

it conjures this image of a whole cloister of monks having a simultaneously crisis of faith, but rather than abandon the ritual of study, prayer, and seclusion, decide to spice up the routine by playing sweet pranks on God.

that it has to do with food is an obvious bonus for me, but it is just a sympathetic sort of gesture, because i mean, don’t we all sometimes want to hide from God? won’t we join the monks someday, shrugging our shoulders and palms upturned in exaggerated comedic fashion, as the hellfire licks and scorches our rascal chins?

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