Imagine that you’re a guest at a dinner party at someone’s home.
Everything is going swimmingly until your host, looking at your plate, notices that you’ve left the asparagus untouched.
“You didn’t eat your asparagus," he remarks. “What’s wrong with asparagus?”
“I’m sure it’s lovely,” you reply. “I just don’t care for any.”
“What? You’re turning down asparagus? Have you ever even TRIED asparagus?” he asks, a little agitated. “Don’t you know that asparagus is the crowning glory of the vegetable world? How can you say you ‘don’t care for any’ – anyone with any discernment would love asparagus! Maybe you just haven’t had it cooked the right way. Try it now. I don't believe you've ever given it a chance, or tasted it the right way.”
You turn to your neighbors at the table and try to steer the topic onto something less controversial than vegetables and their relative merit. But your host won’t let it go.
“I’m serving asparagus because it’s the very BEST vegetable, and I love it, and you ought to love it too! You have no idea how much better your life would be if you loved asparagus!” He says, becoming more agitated. “There’s something wrong with you if you don’t love asparagus. You ought to be humbly thankful that I’m sharing it with you!”
“I’m sorry this upsets you so much," you reply, “but in all truth, asparagus makes me break out in hives…I’m not trying to malign your cooking, I’m sure that for people who don’t have this kind of reaction to asparagus, yours is terrific…but as I said, I get hives from it."
There is a muted gasp from everyone at the dinner table, and then an uneasy silence.
The woman across the table leans over and says, “I have no idea why you’re being so hateful. All he’s trying to do is to share vegetable goodness and truth with you. You need to read The James Beard Cookbook. In the chapter on vegetables, it says ‘Asparagus lovers…devote hours and days to gorging on this delightful green stalk’…and also ‘Indeed there are few food treats to equal fresh asparagus’ and it speaks about the proper relationship between humans and asparagus, too: ‘They even make whole meals of it.' Do you think that it would say that if asparagus weren’t the most wholesome, wonderful, RIGHT vegetable? WHY won’t you accept this gift, this truth?”
“Wait a minute," you exclaim. “I HAVE that cookbook, and I’ve read it many times, and that’s not exactly what it says. You left out the part that…’
“WHICH edition of the Book have you read?” your host demands.
“Ummm… the 1967 printing, I think,” you respond.
There are heads shaking all around the table. You neighbor to the left says, “Well, that explains it. You’re reading the wrong version of the Book – you really need to read the original, the 1959 first edition.” And your host nods his head sagely. "You have to read the right edition, AND you have to be filled with the spirit of Julia Child to guide you in your reading," he adds.
“No, never mind....what difference does the edition make?” you ask, puzzled. “And I don't need any help in reading - I'm literate. Anyway, the fact remains that asparagus gives me hives. I have to go to the doctor and get shots if I eat it, so why are you trying to push it on me? Do you WANT me to get hives?”
Your host gives you a pitying look. “Your hives," he pronounces, “are just a fear reaction to the truth, or a symptom of your wrongful desire to not give up false vegetables. We understand. We were once like you, eating artichokes and carrots and beets and eggplant. We know the lure of those false vegetables. But you have to understand that while they may SEEM to taste good or be good for you, they are not the right way. Only asparagus has the components of a good life. And what you now perceive as tasting good is really ashes in your mouth, and those false vegetables are the path to ill-health.”
“That’s it!” you exclaim, standing up and throwing your napkin on your plate. “Listen, I know it's difficult for you to understand this, but asparagus is NOT right for EVERYONE. Don't you listen at all? I get actual hives from that stuff, I have physical proof of it, and it’s NOT a ‘fear reaction’ or anything like that. I’m not going to eat it, and I don’t want to hear any more about it! And guess what? I eat those other vegetables all the time, and I don't get hives from THEM. As for your quotes...there are OTHER cookbooks in the world, and they are just as valid as James Beards’ book, and some of us even cook WITHOUT a book! And we do darned well without a book! So from now on, don’t invite me to your little asparagus-praise-fests!”
Mouths hang agape. A shocked silence descends.
As you head to the door, you can hear your host exclaiming to his other guests, “How sad! But we must pity that poor soul, not have contempt. There are lost ones in the world who do not know the joy and fulfillment of asparagus; they are not at fault, they just have something wrong with their taste buds….let’s beseech the Great Asparagus to change their hearts and bring them to The Way and save them from the horrible life they will have without it."
The next week, you get a call from a different acquaintance, who is inviting you to a dinner party.
“Forgive me for asking," you say nervously, “but you’re not serving asparagus, are you?
~ Author unknown