The reason I talk about food being over handled is because I read a book called Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell (1933)I read it a long time ago, he talked about the plain cooking and the fancy restaurants and how much they touched every surface of your meal at the expensive place as compared to a more simple fare.
Heres a review for an idea . Like most of us, I read Orwell in high school ("Animal Farm" and "1984") and remained largely unaware that hed written anything that didnt involve either talking Trotskyite animals or a terrifyingly functional dystopia. A friend of mine gave me Down and Out in Paris and London a month ago, and I was unable to put it down until I was done. In what is basically the chronicle of a couple of months of self-induced misery, Orwell explodes a lot of myths surrounding poverty and the spirit-breaking labor that is, for many, the only exit from it.
We know the gist of the book: Orwell sets up shop amongst the common people, first washing dishes in various Paris restaurants and then tramping around London and environs. Proceeding via introductions and anecdotes--some hilariously funny, others downright heart-rending--Down and Out in Paris and London offers a detailed tour of a side of life that most of us will only ever read about. From the painstaking descriptions of exactly what kind of muck is to be found on the floor of a restaurants kitchen in 1920s and 1930s Paris (you dont want to know, but he tells you) to elaborations on how to skirt begging laws in London and the dangers associated with such living, Orwell makes his points, one after the other. To his credit, though, there is little dogmatic moralizing; when, at the end of the book, he tells you what hes learned, he doesnt seem to feel the need to shove down the readers throat what is clearly stuck in his own. The feeling is strong, though, that youd have to be blind, crazy or both, not to reach the same conclusions.
The greatest strength of Down and Out, though, is the manner in which Orwell never attempts to pass himself off as one of the people he is pretending to be. The English band Pulp has a song about rich kids slumming with the common people, but the song points out that, if the going ever really got tough, the rich kids can always call Daddy and have him bail them out. Orwell has to realize that he is in that same privileged situation; his tramping in London, for example, is simply to kill time until he can take up a legitimate position, and, along the way, he is able to borrow money several times from a friend in order to make ends meet. This distance that he subtly maintains between himself and those who have little choice in their fate only adds punch to the lessons he learns, and Orwells probably privileged reader (at least privileged enough to spend money on books) is permitted to learn alongside him. There are picky complaints that could be lodged here--the untranslated French passages, for example, which will leave at a loss those without high school French--but, overall, Down and Out in Paris and London is a great read, one of those few books that manages to be both entertaining and properly disturbing. It has all the wit and scoop of later efforts like Bourdains recent best-seller, Kitchen Confidential, or Ehrenreichs Nickel and Dimed, but Down and Out, after bigger game than Bourdain and less unforgivably preachy than Ehrenreich, manages to dig deeper under your skin and stay there longer. And that, as Orwell concludes, is a beginning.