Friday, July 23, 2021

relationDips: triple cheese spicy vegorama

With apologies to Dominos, whose pizzas I enjoy periodically, I present the histories of vegetarianism, pizza and vegetarian pizzas. I will then explain how all three are intricately connected with, and reflected in, our relationships.

It seems the earliest record of vegetarianism, which is the choice to not eat meat, is in the writings of ancient India. Unless you read another article which says it was Pythagoras, the great Greek mathematician; he of the famous theorem we all studied in high school. It does seem clear though from the Biblical record that Adam and Eve were vegetarians. Next level vegetarianism is veganism, under which philosophy, practitioners do not eat or use animal products.  The term veganism is a 20th century construct, but this extreme form of vegetarianism, appears to have originated around the same time, in the same cultures. 

Of course in Western societies, with their focus on the individual, vegetarianism has mostly been a choice; either a health choice or an ethical choice, or both. In eastern cultures, so bound with the religious beliefs of Hinduism and its offspring, Buddhism, and very much collectivist societies, such choices have not been, and are still not available.

Pizza was also born in ancient times, although the first use of the word only dates back to first century Gaeta, now contained in the modern nation state of Italy. While ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks ate various flatbreads with toppings, the pizza, as we know it today is said to have been created in Naples, in the late 18th century. 

You can travel to almost any country in the world and find some version of pizza, including vegetarian pizzas like one of my favourites, that I mentioned in the title of this post. However, it is only recently, over the last 10-15 years, that major western pizza chains like Pizza Hut and Dominos have begun offering vegetarian pizzas.

Also dating back to ancient, even pre-historic times, are relationships, and it is here that I wish to sharpen the reader's focus.

The issue of eating animal products, or not, can be an issue in relationships, but it generally isn't. Of all the problems and disagreements a couple will face, food has rarely directly caused a relationship breakdown. Eating maybe, but not food itself.

Perhaps because it is so vital, the question of what is eaten by who and where and when, seems to be an aspect of relationships in which compromise is relatively easy. As part of her Catholic practice, my wife chooses not to eat meat on Fridays. Although this prohibition is not a part of my religious practice, it has been an easy thing for me to simply not eat meat on Fridays. It's a simple way for me to demonstrate respect for her. She doesn't eat chicken because she doesn't like it, but she cooks it for the rest of the family, because we do.

If vegetarianism was a big deal for a particular person, it would certainly come up in the early stages of a relationship, and be dealt with. Post marriage or post relationship commencement vegetarianism might present more of a challenge, but as I said, it is highly unlikely to destroy the relationship.

What can we learn from all this? Pizza is good, choice is good, and compromise is not only good, but is also an indispensable ingredient for healthy relationships. Meat, on the other hand, is not an indispensable ingredient for a great tasting pizza.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Snake Oil: Bells and Whistles

Some time in everyone's life - multiple times throughout life in fact - difficult choices will present themselves. There are moments when decisions have to be made, important, pivotal points in time. The consequences of these decisions need to be considered when there is sufficient time for proper consideration. On occasion, we are forced to act quickly without proper deliberation.

Here's an example of a watershed moment which occurred recently in our lives. Everyone knows air fryers are a safe and healthy alternative to traditional oil frying. Having had countless hairy cooking sessions and suffered injury as well, my wife wanted to ditch the oil and go for the air.

So off we went to The Good Guys. The Good Guys at Warrawong are situated in a row of large homemaker stores. All the major furniture and appliance retailers are there, except Bing Lee. We chose The Good Guys for two reasons. First, our last appliance purchase had been there, albeit at the Millner store in the NT, and secondly because when you are travelling southbound on King St, as we were, they are the first appliance store you come to.

To cut a long and dull story short, we narrowed the choice of air fryers down to two; both Phillips brand air fryers. (Phillips invented the air fryer). The two fryers were identical in all but two aspects; colour and instrumentation. It was literally and figuratively, a black and white decision whether to chose the white fryer with a good old fashioned dial, or the black fryer with a digital control panel. The black fryer with it's numerous settings and bright lights was significantly more expensive. For me it was a no brainer. If the two appliances do the same thing, why pay extra for electronic controls?

It won't surprise you to hear, that my wife, as the chief cook in our home, had the final say and she chose the black one.

I'm totally okay with that. It's a great appliance which does what it is supposed to do and has certainly reduced the incidents of burns from splashing, spitting oil. I've even used it to cook pies because the gas oven we have, sucks.

My issue is the electronic component. All modern appliances have them. They have all the whistles and bells, including the twin musical dipsticks I used to joke about in relation to cars when I was young enthusiast.

The trouble with all these fancy electronics is they are noisy. Really noisy. They're intrusive rude, and a bit of a nag. Where one beep might suffice to tell me the microwave has finished it's job, several beeps insist I take action. I can't touch any buttons without loud beeping. I can see the display so the sound seems redundant. I suppose if I was blind, I would appreciate it, but come on. Why is the sound necessary? Why is it so loud? When you turn a thing on. BEEP! When you adjust the time, temperature or other setting. BEEP! When you switch it off. BEEP! I don't see the need for it.

Maybe it's how the appliance asserts itself, signalling its obedience, declaring its efficiency. Maybe, it's intended to be reassuring. It's making a loud noise, so it must be good. It cost a lot of money so it must be loud, and the display must be bright. There's a light on the USB charger in our car. At night, it's so bright, it's distracting. What is the real purpose of all these lights and beeps? Do we really need the bells and whistles?

The popularity of electronic controls on appliances suggests their desirability, if not their necessity. Or have we been fooled? Have we been seduced into believing that appliances with electronic controls are better? More powerful? Easier to use? More efficient?

In the opinion of the writer the whistles and bells only serve to make appliances more annoying. I'll continue to use them of course, including my second choice air fryer, but I'll also vainly tell them to 'keep it down' while lamenting the intrusion of yet more unnecessary noise.