The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Saturday, March 06, 2004

So last night on my way home from work I stopped by a grocery store to get some sliced sourdough bread. Now this grocery store, Piazza's, is a very upscale establishment in the very wealthy town of Palo Alto. It has about fifty square feet of shelf space devoted to dozens of varieties of sliced bread. And sourdough bread is the official bread of San Francisco. So it should have been an easy matter for me to find my bread and go on my way, right?

No, it was not. For completely unfathomable reasons, bakers of sourdough bread slice and package their product in ways that are perhaps aesthetically pleasing, but impractical. I'm not going to put the bread on display on a crystal platter. I'm not going to have it bronzed. I'm not going to hurl it at an unsuspecting visitor when they arrive at the airport -- "Here, please take the stereotypical baked goods associated with our metropolitan area!" I'm going to eat it.

Which leads me to think, why aren't there religious dietary restrictions that would prohibit this nonsense? I'm afraid that dietary laws of the major religions are completely inapplicable to our modern lifestyle. For instance, the Old Testament forbids the consumption of shrimp. Have you seen a shrimp? It's clearly a little alien, and we must do whatever it takes to eliminate the extraterrestrial menace. Earthlings are just supposed to sit there and let them breed? I think not.

Or what about Catholic rules about the consumption of meat on Friday during Lent? I remember this from my childhood. No one was able to explain to me why I couldn't eat chicken, pork, or beef during Fridays for six weeks in February, March, and April. But I didn't care, because I was helping to commemorate the passion of Christ by visiting Arthur Treacher's and stuffing myself full of greasy fried fish and potatoes. It's a shame that I no longer have the inclination for such religious fervor.

Here's how religious food laws would work if I were in charge:

And the LORD said unto Moses, "I am the LORD your God, who brought thou out of Egypt. Thou shalt not baketh loaves of bread in shapes that are round or otherwise not oblong, LEST YE DIE. Nor shalt thou wrap thy loaves with so little plastic that when they are opened, my people find it hard to closeth them again.

"Nor shalt thou bake loaves that contain hard little oat grains, LEST YE DIE. I am the LORD your God, who brought thou out of Egypt, and I did not bringeth thou out of Egypt so that thou could marketeth horse food as fit for human consumption."



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