Saturday, January 09, 2010

plato of food



I had a fine plate of irony for lunch this week.


What else would you call a Mexican resident who visits Salem and orders up a combination plate at a local Mexican restaurant?


Let's start with the obvious.  Even though the restaurant styles itself as serving Jalisco-style food, I have never seen a plate that looks anything like this in Melaque -- an authentic Jalisco village.  Not even the usual police lineup of eateries that cater to Canadian and American tastes.


But I was not there merely to eat.  I was meeting my good friend, John.


You have had the pleasure of meeting him on these pages.  PhD in philosophy.  Family man.  Raconteur.


He is a regular commenter -- under an alias.  I will let you guess which.


If I ever need good conversation, I call John.


Our exchange this week was a mixture of the serious and frivolous.  Our usual quasi-intellectual brew. 


The spice is that the two of us could not be further apart from one another on issues of faith and government.  That is what makes us such good friends.  There is nothing less satisfying than talking with people who agree with your position.


We do agree on basic moral principles.  Where we differ is on our conclusions.


Accepting that possibility is what makes a civilization civil.  The antithesis is Somalia -- or, at least, Bosnia.


While we were talking, I thought of a young man I talked with earlier in the week.  We share the same faith principles.  Our notion of truth could have been painted on Plato's wall.


Where we disagree is on some of the conclusions to be drawn from those principles.  I consider that ambiguity to be a sign of maturity.  He views it as vague heresy.


But it is that type of strict Aristotelian thought that strangles civility on the field of conformity.  It is what frightens some of us about political correctness and most forms of political and religious fundamentalism -- from both the right and the left.


It certainly leads to unpleasant lunch conversations.


John and I did not fall into that unpleasantness.  When we parted, I was sorry to see him go -- and to know that will be the last lunch with him for some time.


But I can now return to Mexico and have a plate of food that I will recognize as being truly Jalisco fare.


Soon.

15 comments:

Felipe said...

That plate would feel right at home in my neck of the Mexican woods. Less beans, perhaps.

Tim Nichol said...

Ah, un plato Americano tipico. Swimming in bean soup (cheap to produce). Dampened-down chilis (don't want to annoy those wimpy palates with REAL chilis). You had to do it, just to remind yourself. Now you can go home and have an authentic Jalisco enchilada. Or two.

Gloria said...

I think you'd call the Mexican resident "hungry." Looks good, hope you enjoyed it. Have a great weekend.

Anonymous said...

glad you got to enjoy one last visit with john. speaking of which, i just got the pictures from our get together last week. i will put them on a disc and e-mail them to you.

hope you will have had a safe trip back to melaque.

take care,
teresa

jennifer rose said...

Did you have to go and ruin our breakfasts with that picture of swill masquerading as Mexican food?

Steve Cotton said...

Felipe -- American restaurants seem to lay on the beans. Of course, they are cheap.

You asked elsewhere if I am returning to Mexico. I am. Next Saturday. This has been an eventful trip north.

Tim -- I am looking forward ro getting back to the Real Thing. But I will first need to shed some holiday-gifted pounds.

Gloria -- I enjoyed my lunch. But I will enjoy eating better food at home.

Teresa -- I look forward to the pictures. They will be good post fodder, I am certain.

Jennifer -- I forgot we had a pact about not photographing food in eateries.

Anonymous said...

Call me crazy, but that looks delicious to me!

Calypso said...

That plate would not make it here on the east coast of Mexico - glad to read you are on your way 'home'.

Alan said...

Steve, please give John my fondest regards and know that I think often of him. Why is it so true that talking with an agreeable friend can be, well, boring, while talking with John, the antithesis of much that I believe, is an exercise both thrilling and mind expanding. Neither of us will change our positions without an outside force intervening, but the exercise is something I long for.

Charles said...

Hi Steve - the beans are a little over the top - or the plate in this case - looks alright for Salem OR. Your writing is a joy to read - sometimes a bit much like a closing argument at times - but good nonetheless. I work as an HR Specialist for the US Attorney's Office here in San Diego - so nary a day goes by that I don't say to myself "what did he just say?" Have a safe trip "home" - Babs is waiting for your assistance in finding the best Pina Colada in Melaque!

Anonymous said...

How could one be certain that it is a plate of Mexican food on the table and not an illusion? What kinds of operations might one perform to convince oneself that it is indeed a plate of food that one can eat?

Easy: One carries a parakeet in his pocket to try the alleged plate of Mexican food before diving in.

But then: Could one really trust the report of the parakeet? Can parakeets lie? Or are they too honest, to paraphrase Wittgenstein.

Oh my, it's a mare's nest of confusion.

Cory said...

Steve-
Mmm, that looks good.

I have been meaning to ask you about Jalisco-style food. Because here in Oregon, it is my favorite Mexican style. But how does Oregon-Jalisco compare to Jalisco-Jalisco-style? What makes Jalisco-style ... Jalisco-style?

This is making me hungry. :)

-Cory

VisitLaManzanilla said...

OMG! I saw that photo and thought, "what is that?" then I read the post...yes, like the US version of Mexican food!

Steve Cotton said...

Anonymous. OK. You're crazy. (Just because you asked me to say it.) The unfortunate truth is that I ate it and liked it.

Calypso -- On Saturday I will be on my way home.

Al -- John is interesting because he actually respects people -- even those who disagree with him.

Charles -- I am looking forward to meeting Babs on Saturday or Sunday.

Anonymous -- Making it a bit easy to guess, aren't you?

VisitLaManzanilla -- Almost like a Holmes mystery.

hta said...

John was at our home for New Years and provided much stimulating conversation. I suspect our (John's and mine) views on most things are more in alignment - perhaps not on religion and faith -though I'd suspect you and I would draw differing conclusions from our faith, but maybe not too much different.

You should google "Roll Around Heaven," my wife's new book, subtitled "An All True Accidental Spiritual Adventure." Then you should read it.