There are ways to preserve food traditions without patronizing poor people or attacking capitalism. The San Francisco Chronicle yesterday ran a nice article (with a clever double entendre headline) on raclette cheese and the rituals associated with its consumption, as practiced by the Golden Gate Swiss Club. Walter Munz, the club president and raclette—meister is pictured demonstrating the proper technique for melting and scraping the cheese onto a warm plate, where it is eaten over slices of boiled potato.
Walter, it happens, is a friend, and a very fine fellow indeed. His day job is running a catering company in San Francisco, so it is not too surprising that he has the finest set of taste buds of anyone I know. Wine tasting with Walter is a real kick, because he can detect little hints of flavors I wouldn't notice right away in the complex mix of flavor elements in the nose, tongue, or finish of a wine. But when he says, "Did you notice...?" I usually can, with appropriate focus, see what he means.
I haven't got a clue as to Walter's politics, and that's just fine with me. Most Swiss people I know are pretty conservative, but more than that, they are practical and focused on whatever subject happens to be at hand. Sometimes enjoyng life's little pleasures precludes worrying about cosmic issues. I wish the folks at Slow Food would get a clue from Walter.
Thomas Lifson 10 20 05