I was really trying to avoid going deeper into the many parallells between modern life and modern food production, because it’s an unsettling line of thought with even more settling implications. The issue, however, has been bubbling on the back burner long enough to start spilling over; having reached this boiling point, it is time to peek in and see how it’s doing.
Today’s star ingredient is lobster, an aquatic crustacean of gourmet fame, symbol of opulence and lavish lifestyles, and also a creature that has the bad luck of often being cooked alive for reasons of culinary savoir-faire. For folks that don’t feel good about dropping live lobsters directly into boiling water (pro chefs abstain), the age-old trick is to kill ’em softly by putting them in cold water and slowly heating it to a boil… by the time the panic trigger goes off, it’s over. This is what passes as the “humanitarian” way to cook a lobster, although surely the lobsters –if asked– would probably suggest a more “lobsterian” approach consisting of telling humans to go boil themselves.
Oddly, the plight of these juicy crustaceans was the first thing to come to mind while reading the news of the newly-elected mayor of a small town close to Barcelona, who in his first council meeting voted to raise his salary as mayor and the salaries of all the councilmen, which had been cut by the previous mayor because of the crisis. As expected, the raise was approved by the council. As not expected, when the session ended not long thereafter, the mayor strolled out of Town Hall to find three hundred irate citizens waiting for him outside, who followed him for over a mile making pleasant comments about him, his salary and his mother.
This kind of spontaneous citizen manifestation –not just non-partisan but directly anti-partisan– brought together at the speed of social networks, can only happen when the overall social waters are at a simmering point. The 15-M “Indignados” (or “Indignant Ones” according to Babelfish) movement was the first time the simmer began visibly boiling, which of course made a lot of lobsters and assorted shellfish in public office reach for the panic button. For now the visible boiling has ended, but the simmer is growing stronger and more incidents such as above can be expected in what’s promising to be one long, hot summer.
The entire politico class in Spain is swimming in very hot water. Any sudden movement can bring localized boiling; cooked, served & adiós. The seed has been cast and is crystallizing around the simple mathematics of them against us, closing the kinetic gap between the hot particles and whoever’s on the menu today. The big fat lobster fest may have been postponed in the middle of the pot, but as any cook knows, water begins boiling at the edges first. As their eyelids grow heavier and heavier… break out the bibs!