giovedì, giugno 10, 2010

Gourmands of the world, unite!

The long silence has been due to a long spell of hard work and a long spell of China, where all of this sort of thing is not allowed - no Twitter, no Facebook, no Blogger. It was my first trip to Asia and a very low-impact one since 85% of it was spent in a five star hotel, but we did get out to see the more touristic, accessible parts of Shanghai, and I got to eat. A lot. I got to satisfy my wildest, most frustrated cravings - the stomach-grinding misery anyone used to living with a lot of Chinese-extraction-type people will know if they move to Europe, this goddamn culinary desert.

I think Canadians are so deeply unaware of the benefits of our sort of multiculturalism that it worries me because it is something worth fighting tooth and nail to preserve. I could go on for days about the dangers, inaccuracies and moral pitfalls of basing politics on ideas of nationality, and I have, on occasion. And I'm not saying the fractured but blanket snobbery of eurocentrism is any less awful than any other ethnocentrism - that the Han Chinese or American model of basically denying any differences at all exist (beyond the differences promoted by apparently recalcitrant, headstrong cultural perverts like Tibetans or Hispanic people who don't bother learning English) is better.

And I have to acknowledge that in Canada, it is very likely that what we have works as smoothly as it does because our immigration system is extremely aggressive in keeping out illegal migrants, refugees, and any other new residents who aren't already a part of the middle class in their home countries. In fact, if the EU started applying Canadian standards in terms of immigration or refugees, it would have to be after a violent swing to the right - which makes it rather amusing when Canadians seem concerned about European anti-immigrant right-wing movements which are actually a bit left relative to our mainstream.

Of course, there are certain qualifying factors there: in Canada, we're apparently content to hire each other to clean our toilets, strip in our strip clubs, have sex for money, and take care of our children and elderly people, so our present immigration policies are a continuation of older ones - whereas if they came in effect in the EU, it would mean reversing long-standing policies of importing millions of immigrants from Africa, Asia, and the old Yalta countries to do all that stuff cheaper. And while Canadians can just check people's passports when they get off planes and then let Fortress America and the weather take care of the rest in terms of border control, the EU would have to bristle up into a little gun-turreted stronghold to keep people out. Europeans, in short, couldn't do what we manage to do so quietly without declaring war on the world.

Anyways, qualifying factors and moral provisos and everything else notwithstanding, the multicultural climate we've ended up with in Canada is really ace. The country is a sort of non-interfering, co-operative union of the international bourgeoisie, and being bourgeois is totally where it's at. There are a lot of reasons for that, which I didn't understand until I became middle class myself, and didn't understand until I met a lot of people of my father's background, in particular, who hadn't gone to the trouble that he'd gone to of getting into the middle class.

The acest thing I can think about it this morning is that the middle class is the foodie class. Sure, the working classes make awesome food - in fact, the awesome food, the food that is the basis of their countries' culinary heritage. Ruling class food is a series of fads and false traditions with no staying power and it should fuck off and die. But the middle class is the class that has the combination of the cultural memory of being working class combined with the leisure to explore and experiment that lets them try lots of new kinds of food.

And in Canada - and I'm hoping to fuck the same applies in Australia and New Zealand, as you might imagine - we, as a nation dominated by the urban bourgeoisie, we can eat at a different kind of restaurant every night of the week for two fucking months if we want to without repeating, at prices accessible to a middle-class wallet. Do you know what would happen if I tried to do that in Belgium, which is supposed to have one of the foodiest cultures in Europe? The fucking process would last two weeks, maybe, and if I wanted anything from outside of Europe that wasn't absolutely fuckingly vily blandified for sissy European palates, I'd go fucking broke. Oh my fuck, it is so annoying.