Comfort food

As I write, the Dow is 500 down and plunging; the Footsie (London), likewise crashed; and so, everywhere else there is a stock market; while at Davos in Switzerland the world’s leading politicians and movie stars sound pompously glum. All this makes me happy.

The race is on, into government bonds, as the IMF begins to realize that we are in a worse position than 2007, facing worse than in 2008. The Chinese Communists turned out not to be magicians. More, the world’s financial assets are all tied up in computer algorithms, better than red tape; they all come down together. The central banks have run right out of “quantitative easing.” And now a tiny inevitable rise in interest rates prepares to tip everything off the table. Oil is become almost worthless; and did I mention the competitive currency devaluations?

The castle in air is descending, oh la! … Watch out below! …

Of course I saw this coming; everybody did. That’s why I called my (inner) broker and told him to shift all my money into second-hand books. They’ll be a real treasure when the Internet collapses. I have half-a-dozen stacked by my bedside already. …

But darn, Wall Street did a correction, from the time I last checked. It seems to have restored about half of its losses. There is still a danger “market forces” will recover. We might, by some demonic miracle, creep back to where we were. But also a good chance not. For the precipice remains before us; and surely this is the year for the great dive.

In the memorable words of Flannery O’Connor: “Go warn the children of God of the terrible speed of mercy!”


The other topical point I wanted to make today, is on comfort food. Consider your options here, gentle reader, in the sweets portfolio: a rippled chocolate bombe; a mousse; crêpes suzette; upside-down puddings; butterscotch apple charlotte; a pavlova; a torte; perhaps a roulade; a Battenberg cake, or Bakewell tart; indeed, anything under a layer of marchpane.

Or before we come to sweet, to meat: and that with plenty of potatoes. Consider, my dear market investor: Pot-roast brisket in beer! Roast pork with crisp, and rosemary! Sirloin with red onions in a dark port gravy! Steak pies! Roast lamb with mint sauce, or in apricots! Lamb shanks! Venison and mushrooms! Glorious rich stews! Braised partridge! Coq au vin!

The truth is I am flipping the pages to the photographs in a cookbook I picked up in the laundry room downstairs. It is morally disapproving of itself. The captions speak of sin, guilt, and indulgence. They warn us of the calorie counts. They flinch at the mention of fats; beautiful fats. Yet there is nothing wrong with any of these fine meals. What a weight of self-reproach, that could have been presented in the Confessional, and shriven. For in addition to the fake ones, we do have real sins.

So recently was this laundry-book published that it mentions not “your mother,” but “your grandmother,” as the maker of such delights. (Your mom probably had a boring, pulverizing dayjob, just like you, young miss — thanks to the triumph of feminism.) Soon it might have to be your great-grandmother, who brought such magnificent fare before the sparkling eyes of her big family, famished from real work, outdoors. And great-grandpa saying grace from the other end of the table; and all joining in a hearty Amen!

Poor people, by any modern statistical standard. Home-owners, back when land was cheap. Or, people who actually built their own houses; and grew vegetables in their sidelot; and even before the delivery of city milk in bottles, got it from their own cow.

Decades have passed, and those people have gone under; but there they all once were. I recall the last glint of that rural and small-town way of life — subsumed in the words “comfort food” today.

I can see it when I close my eyes: the picture of my own beaming grandmother, as if in halo, surrounded by all she loved; and with this grand, Protestant turkey on her tray. Lost world.


Compare: all those monied folk in flash restaurants today, with their troubles, surreptitiously consulting their hand-helds to watch their stockholdings slide, their savings tank, their retirement schemes evaporating, minute by minute. As dull, one would think, as watching paint dry. And all of it abstract; just numbers. And none of it worse than a house on fire.

Still, for some strange reason, they fret about their diet plans, as the “servers” bring them miniature food fragments on giant, vacant plates.

No, no, forlorn besuited people! Forget your depression in your joy! Do not jump off your balcony like that!

It is a day to order every course doubled. Enjoy it before your cards are all called in. Order the best wine. Order another bottle. It is a day to propose marriage; to throw a child in the air, and catch him in your arms. To look upon all the beauty of the world; to walk out under the heavens.

And yes, the future may be more difficult than the past; and if we wish, vastly more rewarding. For the angels have spoken, and we don’t have to be robots any more.

Eat, drink, and rejoice!