The Definition of Superficiality Doesn’t Involve Food

I mused, last evening, about the enjoyment I get out of taking pictures of my food. Maybe it’s a sickness. Or it might be an artist’s engagement with the manner in which the fruits of the Earth sustains him. Or simply a quirk. According to Oxford’s online dictionary, the pronunciation and definition of quirk are as follows—”/kwəːk/: A peculiar aspect of a person’s character or behaviour.” A subset of that definition reads: “A strange chance occurrence.” I’ll accept the definitions and the British spelling of behavior in the first definition, but I’m afraid I can’t live with the pronunciation, thought it is no doubt proper for someone with a British accent. Americans, though, pronounce the word kwurk. And, despite my embarrassment to say it lately thanks to a mindless minority of the population who managed to get an arrogant narcissist with totalitarian tendencies in the White House, I am an American. But this has little to do with photographs of food, I’m afraid, so I’ll just cut off this conversation with myself and return to the subject at hand.


Last night, before I mused about random things including taking pictures of my food, I actually took a picture of the meal my wife made, a chicken breast dressed with a marvelous blueberry sauce she made from fresh blueberries. Oh, and we had steamed broccoli and a green salad. I failed to capture the salad, but I did get a shot of the dinner plate.

The photo doesn’t do justice to that fine meal. I should know better than to rely on my Android phone’s camera to take pictures, but I’m too lazy to take the time and trouble of pulling out my “real” camera. So I make do with tools designed to meet the needs of slothful people.

This morning, I got up early (around 4:30, early even for me lately) and got to work. I mashed an avocado for avocado toast (which we haven’t yet had—that will be for lunch), hard-boiled a bunch of eggs, and found a recipe for something I’ve wanted to try for years but just hadn’t gotten around to it: cloud eggs. Cloud eggs are made by separating the whites of two (for us) eggs from the the yolks and whipping the whites until stiff peaks form. Then, divide the foamy whites into equal-sized globs on a piece of parchment on a cookie sheet. Make an indentation large enough to hold a yolk in each glob. The globs cook for about six minutes until they begin to brown. You then slip the yolks into the indentations and cook the eggs another four or five minutes. The results are attractive (in my view) but the dish has a moderately quirky (see what I did there?) texture. Pictured here is my egg (decorated with chives harvested fresh this morning from the chive orchard outside my back door), alongside a slice of Canadian bacon, three cherries, and two halves of a large radish.

On an entirely different subject, I think it’s been more than two years since I adjusted my Facebook profile to show the pronunciation of my name as ku-LIP-SOH NEE-blud. The fact that no one has ever mentioned it to me reveals the superficial nature of Facebook interactions. Facebook portrays itself as creator of close-knit communities. In fact, though, I think it’s rather rare for people to actually look at a person’s complete profile. That thought caused me to stop writing and take a look at several Facebook friends’ (people I’ve never met in person) profiles to see whether I find anything new or unusual. And I did. Quite a lot, in fact. Oddly, though, none of the small sample I looked at revealed how to pronounce their names. The fact that I didn’t already know that illustrates the degree to which I take the time (or don’t) to learn what people have opted to reveal about themselves or to keep private.

Earlier this morning, for no particular reason, I wondered whether a tract of land filled with avocado trees must be called an orchard or whether it’s permissible to call it an avocado forest. “Permissible” isn’t the right word; I suppose it should be “correct” or “advisable” or something like that. Anyway, I wondered. And I discovered plenty of references to avocado forests, but most were tongue-in-cheek. But I did find a professional paper included in the proceedings of the 1995 World Avocado Congress that referred to avocado forests in a not-so-positive way. The paper, presented by Gray Martin and Guy Witney, Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, University of California, Riverside, puts it this way: “Currently many of the groves in California look and act like avocado forests. As trees begin to crowd the loss of the canopy reduces not only production surface area but reduces the trees ability to be productive (Figure 1.).” Based on my understanding of this reference and other statements made in the paper, I concluded that forests are natural and not managed, whereas managers of trees in orchards (or, to use their terminology, groves) prune and otherwise manage the stock to maximize production. Yet that suggestion doesn’t quite explain why we don’t hear of pine orchards, despite the fact that large tracts of pine trees are subject to intense management by timber companies. Further, the term “forestry management” also argues against the idea that forests are natural and not managed. So, for the time being, I will continue to wonder. And I’ll ponder whether I might one day be the owner of a tomato ranch. That leads to questioning whether “cattle ranch” and “cattle farm” are both appropriate and whether one can operate a “dairy ranch” or whether one must forever be saddled with the term “dairy farm.”

I’ve emptied all the excess pieces of mindless drivel that I can dislodge from my brain, for now, so I’ll post this and hope it doesn’t result in a 72-hour confinement on a mental health hold. 😉


About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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