The Tasting Panel magazine

August 2012

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Page 44 of 128

MERRILL SHINDLER'S WORD OF MOUTH Banned! T THE NANNY STATE COMES TO OUR . . . RESCUE? he most famous culinary prohibition in America was just that—Prohibition. And you know how well that worked out. You'd think we'd have learned our lesson by now: that banning any sort of food and drink makes it that much more desirable. (The same can be said, I suppose, of most human activities.) But we've actually drifted far from that simple truism. The Nanny State is riding roughshod over just about anything and everything that might actually offer a modicum of pleasure. Since July 1, foie gras has been banned in the State of California—forcing le tout Hollywood to head for Las Vegas (where Puritans were sent packing many years ago) for a taste of seared goose liver. Raw milk in banned in California as well. Indeed, a natural foods market in Santa Monica was recently raided for selling raw milk products. The image of the staff doing a perp walk in Birkenstocks was a classic case of cognitive dissonance. But really, that's just the tip of the Nanny State iceberg. In New York, as Andy Blue recently pointed out in two of his letters from the editor, Nanny-in-Chef Michael Bloomberg takes umbrage at the notion that anyone, anywhere, is actually enjoying them- selves. His administration has banned the feeding of bagels to the homeless—not nutritious enough. (Maybe if they mandated a slice of lox and a schmear, it would pass muster?) Much has been made of his efforts to ban soft drinks served in containers larger than 16 ounces. (And much has been made of his observation that you can simply order two 16 ouncers if you want more. Say what?) Since 1971, it's been illegal to import Scottish haggis into the U.S., because it's made with sheep lung. Though one hears rumors of fugu—poisonous puffer fi sh—appearing on the occasional American sushi bar menu, it's not being sold legally. Neither, for that matter, is whale meat; a West Coast sushi bar went out of business a few years back when they were video- taped serving whale—under the table, as it were. Oddly, German-made Kinder Eggs are illegal in the US. They're chocolate eggs with a small toy inside that—you guessed it—the Nannies decided small children might choke on. Banned! And lest I make it seem as if banned foods is solely an American penchant, there's a movement to ban ketchup in France (where it's already verboten in elementary schools). Marmite is forbidden in Denmark for reasons that are hard to fathom. (They apparently have something to do with the vitamin content.) And the al-Shabaab jihadists of Somalia have banned samosas as being . . . "too Christian." On the other hand, we can buy absinthe again. Though the wormwood content is apparently less than it used to be when it was the Green Fairy . . . and made poets go mad. 44 / the tasting panel / august 2012

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