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Mon Jan 9, 2017, 05:54 AM

Writing about food: Simone de Beauvoir interviews Jean-Paul Sartre in "Adieux, A Farewell to Sartre"

D: Apart from tomatoes, what food do you dislike most?
S: Crustaceans, oysters, shellfish. I think ... that it's their resemblance to insects ... . Insects live in the air and not in water, but they have that same degree of life and doubtful consciousness that I find so irksome, and above all, in our everyday existence, they have a look of being entirely absent from our world ... .
D: When you eat vegetables you are stealing them from another universe too ... . There's one great difference, and that is that vegetables have no consciousness.
S: In all likelihood vegetables have none. ... If it is cooked, a vegetable stops being a vegetable and becomes a thick soup or a cooked salad. Rawness sets it farther apart from us.
D: But shellfish don't have that insect look one sees in crustaceans. So why don't you like them?
S: It's food deep down inside an object, and you have to pry it out. It's mainly this notion of prying out that disgusts me. The fact that the creature's flesh is so snugly inside its shell that you have to use tools to get it out instead of cutting it off.
D: Among the things you don't dislike, are there any you practically never eat?
S: Fruit. Because if I want to eat something sweet I'd rather have something man-made, a cake or a tart. In that case the appearance, the putting together and even the taste have been thought out by man and made on purpose. Whereas the taste of fruit is a matter of chance. It's on the tree -- it's lying on the ground, in the grass.
D: In other words, fruit is too natural.
S: Yes. Food must be the result of work performed by man. Bread is like that ... .
D: Do you like meat?
S: No. ... I used to be very fond of charcuterie, but I like it less now. It seemed to me that there man was using meat to make something entirely new. ... As far as I'm concerned it's no longer meat at all. Red meat, even when it's cooked, is still meat. It has the same consistency. There is blood that oozes, it's cut up in the same way ... .
D: In short you are resolutely on the side of the cooked against the raw?
S: Absolutely. I can obviously eat almonds or walnuts, although they hurt my tongue. Pineapples too, because a pineapple looks like something cooked.

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