Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Physiologie du goût

In these melancholic days Baron von Trotta seeks consolation in life's small but solid pleasures.

Central European cuisine, so under appreciated, has managed to retain its Epicurean tradition and survived the dark times brought to the pleasures of the table by globalization, with its good friends sloth and greed running amok, and the new food puritans.

The Baron's childhood cook, a voluptuous and forward Northern Moravian, still mastered the tricks of the Old Imperial Austrian Cuisine, and his early years were a symphony of fine soups, fresh game dishes, aromatic goulash recipes, juicy trouts and glorious cakes that made the Baron healthy, well-balanced, refined in taste and generous at heart, if hard to satisfy at table.

As for contemporary cooking standards, so frightfully anticipated by Josep Pla in his "Lo que hemos comido", we would never have bothered to cover them in these pages, had the Baron not come across the following articles in the Czech press, while in his customary summer visit to his hunting lodge in the Böhmerwald

The Baron's secret fondness for the restless and proud Czechs suffered from reading that even the most basic food they can buy is often not only more expensive, but generally made of poorer ingredients than the same product in Austria or Germany.

In a shameful display of cynicism, a representative of one of the firms engaging in these disgraceful practices, justifies them because of the need to adapt to local tastes. Like if Czechs preferred to find only 40% of true meat instead of 70%, for instance; or artificial sweeteners and not real sugar. 

It is true that the articles point out at foreign firms only, to which even the most radical Czech nationalist buying in a večerka something for dinner will not agree with, but that does not dispute the fact it is scandalous that is happening in what we call the EU. 

For once, a politician seems to have taken the matter in her hands, which is encouraging. Let us hope for some real solutions.

In any case, the Baron leaves all newspapers aside, takes a volume of L'Almanach des Gourmands, but after a few minutes smells the intense aroma of a segedínský guláš just made by a pupil of his former cook, and leaves at once his cozy library to change for dinner, comforted that some things never change, or then the world will not be worth living.

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