mercredi 15 juillet 2009


Can you believe it? The food commentator for the Montreal Gazette has discovered Jell'O! This morning in the Arts and Life section of the paper she has an article titled "breaking the Jell'O mould". She adds: "Not for kids These refreshing jellied desserts made with fruits and wines are turning up on every adult restaurant menus. Did we mention they're fat free?". No kidding?
I had a quick flasback to 1962. A young psychologist from an Eastern bloc country had come to our institution for one month in an educator exchange with that country. I met him at Dorval. He had been allowed to take 10$ out of his country and asked, in much broken english what he could do with it? I motioned him to put it back in his pocket. He went back home with it.
We took turns enternaining him. Being able to understand his "english" I was designated his mentor and "unterpretor". So I took him out the next evening. We went to the Queen Elizabeth's, then a plush Montreal hotel, Panorama Lounge. Long since closed it was a wonderfull place on the 21st floor and had a magnifiscent view over downtown Montreal and our splendid Mont Royal, a 763 feet high elevation around which Montreal has grown.
The place also had, fortunately, a very affordable buffet. On the dessert table were several champagne flutes filled with fruits, multicolored jelly in between the layers of fruit, topped with whipped cream, the real thing. You guessed it: it was Jell'O. Our man ate 7 or 8 flutes and would have eaten more...but he could barely move by then...after all the other things he had eaten.
Finally he pointed at the Jell'O and asked: "Rich man dessert?" When I said no, he did not believe me. Afterward when he was invited to dinner at one or at the other of our colleagues I would phone ahead and tell them to have Jell'O if they really wanted to please the guy. Most recoiled in horror...but complied.
When he left, we gave him a case of 144 packets of Jell'O. Since the thing was ubknown in his country it was impounded upon his arrival. We had to go through diplomatic channels so he could get his present back and enjoy it with his little family. Two years later one of our guys went to complete the exchange. He took 144 packets of Jell'O with him. This time around he had to pay excise tax. He found that Jell'O was now available in specialty shops opened to tourists and party members. They were a luxuty item and sold, for the priviledged, for 5$ a packet.
Who said the Kamarades were not preoccupied with the well being of the small guys?

2 commentaires:

  1. This is precious, as a lost in translation vignette. Lovely story.

  2. We had such a good time with that guy. I took him to a "tour de chant" by our national Gilles Vigneault. Vilko listened intently. After he said:" No understand. Him like men paid for messages in my village, he means". And he was right, save of course for the government messenger part, however Vigneault does carry a strong natioanalist message in his songs poems and books.
    Will be gone for a week as of tomorrow. Take care.