The fruitcake and the meze

The fruitcake is a metaphor, applied first of all here to  my 4/20 posting “Oh joy, oh rapture unforeseen!” — a huge, complex mixture of writing about joy, playfulness, sex, story-telling, intertwined narrative, human nature, memory, artistic performance, Purcell, Jeremiah Clarke, Mendelssohn, Shakespeare, Schubert, Mozart, my life as a child, Lenore Barth and her family, my life with Ann Daingerfield, my life with Jacques Transue, my despair at the evil in the world, and, oh Christ, much more. All compounded together in such a way that no individual topic can easily be pulled out of the mixture. Like a fruitcake.

(You then get the allusion to (offensive) fruit ‘male homosexual’ for free.)

And then this metaphor applied to personal identities, most pointedly mine. Also enormously complex mixtures, a fact merely hinted at my assertions in the 4/20 posting:

I am a prole, proud of it, a union guy from the age of 17 on; I am also a distinguished university professor and all that other good shit.

And then, and then, and then … I am in fact a giant fruitcake of identities, and so are you (just not the same ones).

What about a metaphor counterposed to the fruitcake metaphor? In particular, how do we characterize postings that present pretty much one thing at a time, with the understanding that the postings are parts of some larger assemblage?

I have tons of such material sitting around in the green room, waiting to go on stage. I could add it as comments to an existing posting, or expand it with additional content, but I now want a way to throw in brief postings that connect to other postings. Not just using the adjective brief and adverb briefly — or the noun briefs, making a little men’s-underwear joke — in my titles, but making an implicit reference to a larger whole.

Could I, in fact, find a food metaphor to match fruitcake? Referring to lots of small things, taken separately, that together make a whole?

Enter the meze(s). Yes, I could, and I had it in a posting already, from 10/13/13 in “Small dishes”, about meze: Mediterranean, Balkan, or Middle Eastern — Greek / Turkish / Cypriot / Montenegrin / Lebanese / Israeli / Iranian / etc. — “small dishes”:

Meze … fall into the rich world of “small dishes” in many cultures: appetizers, snacks, hors d’oeuvres, [Spanish] tapas, [Russian] zakuski, [Chinese] dim sum. The function (and of course the instantiation) of small dishes varies from culture to culture

And from NOAD:

noun meze (also mezze) [/ˈmɛze/] (plural same or mezes or mezedes): in the Mediterranean, an appetizer: sit down to a Cyprus meze and a glass of wine. ORIGIN from Turkish, literally ‘appetizer’, from Persian maza ‘to relish’.

The pictures, doctor, the pictures. Three illustrations of ways in which the component elements in a meze platter can be kept distinct from one another.

(#1) Greek meze platter from Aleksa’s Get-Together Site

(#2) Lebanese meze from the Walking Through Lavender Fields site

(#3) Turkish meze from the Luxe City Guides site on meze restaurants in Istanbul

And the fruitcakes too. From Wikipedia:

Fruitcake (or fruit cake or fruit bread) is a cake made with candied or dried fruit, nuts, and spices, and optionally soaked in spirits. In the [UK], certain rich versions may be iced and decorated.

Fruitcakes are typically served in celebration of weddings and Christmas. Given their rich nature, fruitcakes are most often consumed on their own, as opposed to with condiments (such as butter or cream).

In the high-classic fruitcake, the dark brown cake functions to hold together a dense mixture of assorted dried fruits, assorted nuts, and candied fruit and fruit peel; the cake is soaked in spirits (bourbon and rum are common choices) and then aged (the alcohol evaporates). The result is dark and moist.

Two examples from the QVC site:

(#4) [ad copy:] A tasteful tradition that everyone will love, Eilenberger’s world famous fruit cake has Texas pecans, cherries, tropical pineapple, and golden raisins baked in a buttery egg batter.

(#5) [ad copy:] Treat yourself — and others — to an old-fashioned holiday tradition with Claxton’s fruit cake. Sun-ripened California raisins, pineapple, Georgia pecans, plump cherries, walnuts, almonds, and tangy lemon and orange peel are blended into rich pound cake batter and baked to a golden brown for a festive flavor you won’t want to miss.

But what about the words? Crucial background from my 12/8/06 LLog posting “Plural, mass, collective”: English has several ways for a noun to “mean more than one”– it could be a C[ount] PL noun (like shrubs), a M[ass] noun (like shrubbery), or a COLL[ective] (C SG) noun like bunch (as in a bunch of grapes).

Then, about meze and fruitcake.

meze is a C noun, period, with SG meze referring to one of the dishes in a platter, PL meze or mezes referring to more than one. The usual COLL (C) noun for meze is platter: a meze platter, a platter of meze.

fruitcake shares the categorial properties of its head noun cake; in particular, it has uses as a M noun and as a C noun: fruitcake is 1 a M noun referring to the substance: we had (much) fruitcake for breakfast. 2 a C noun referring to the object: we had a fruitcake for breakfast; we had two / many fruitcakes for breakfast.

The fruitcake is a metaphor, applied first of all to my postings (complex composites of disparate elements in an indissoluble whole), in contrast to the metaphor of the meze(s), for assemblages of separate but related postings.

And, as I said above, the fruitcake is also a metaphor

applied to personal identities, most pointedly mine. Also enormously complex mixtures: I am a prole, proud of it, a union guy from the age of 17 on; I am also a distinguished university professor and all that other good shit.

And then, and then, and then … I am in fact a giant fruitcake of identities.

An alternative metaphor for the multiplicity of identities. A prole and a distinguished university professor (and a social activist, and more). Like the promiscuous homosexual (an identity polished as an art form) and museum curator (and wonderful poet, and more) Frank O’Hara, encountered in my “joy and rapture” posting — O’Hara once likened his presentation of himself to a truckdriver in drag (at once both crudely masculine and flagrantly queer).

Like SNL’s Shimmer: both a floor wax and a dessert topping — so we all suspect that if Shimmer is both of these things, it’s probably a lot of other stuff as well (perhaps an effective scouring powder, but surely a sleep aid, a hypnagogic, maybe an aphrodisiac).

I am Shimmer, hear me roar!
Floor wax, dessert topping, and more!

And so was born Shimmer Man, a hero of a thousand identities, all rolled into one.

But, in any case, Shimmer as metaphor.

Let us return to our mezes. In any case, you can now expect the occasional brief posting labeled as a meze, which will be one item in a collection of topic-related postings (and not anything remotely edible). I had hoped to get a couple off today, but my life is (mostly pleasantly) overfull.

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