If Jacques Derrida had eaten at fabled restaurant, Noma, in Copenhagen, and had later run into Chef René Redzepi, he might have been heard to say the following (Warning: This is a fictional monologue. Many of the author’s interpretations of Derrida’s philosophies and mannerisms have been considerably exaggerated.):
I was at your restaurant the other day, if it can be said that I was anywhere at all. Your food is exceptional. Of course, it is difficult to avoid the possibility that what I really mean is your food instantiates exception. The fact that it is removed from what might be called “unexceptional” imposes an undesirable penumbra over every other restaurant I’ve been to. In reflecting upon this unfactual fact, it seems I should differ to remark upon it further as a general event, if there are such things as general events.
As a general event [waves hands and makes “whoosh” sound], let us say that the food was generally eventful. I was particularly drawn to the first course on the menu, titled, “Red currant and green strawberry.” Dwelling in my assumptions, I immediately thought, “Ah-ha, this is Christmas Time that he is representing.” As I began to play with these words in my head, however, the idea of Christmas Time immediately dissolved into an intricate nexus of contradictions.
Take red, for example. I love red, I think. And indeed, in so many cases, red is meant to color things with love, or instill love for things within me and you, René. But just as soon as I had recalled how lovely red is, a deep current of concern overtakes me, René. I recall the Medieval images of that chief provocateur, that mythical trickster with which I had grown familiar as a child. To whom do I refer, René? In so far as the “he” to which I refer is a “he” at all, I refer to Lucifer. The red Beast. That kingdom of blood and hellfire. And this, René, is the very opposite of love I am told. So you can imagine how I trembled with anticipation in coming to see what arrangement of phenomena would be presented to me for the first course.
And neither did this “green strawberry” abate my inquiry. Indeed strawberries are, I would think maybe, often thought of as red, not green. And so you can imagine my initial confusion, René. But green, as my old friends would say, often “signifies” freshness and earthliness and all things healthy and young. I soon became keen on the idea of tasting fruit which was younger and fresher and perhaps of a more puerile volatility in the form of pungency and undeveloped acid.
This was an exciting notion, I thought. That is, until far different ideas leaked [uses hands to convey abstract gestural “leaking” motions near head] into my internal conversation. No doubt, the hunger was getting to me. But apart from this freshness, as such, the word “acid” had invoked the most unappetizing reminder of nuclear waste, pathogens, noxious fumes, human sinal excrement, and many other such things toxic and hazardous to humans. I was reminded of a cartoon I’d once seen, wherein a green smog was animated to represent a poison which smelled as something long-dead and unburied and which floated around to haunt the cartoon characters in their cartoon world.
René, I was in suspense. I resolved to keep reading and not permit myself to become side-tracked. Already, though, the second menu item had a curious title. “Nordic coconut.” How two very such dissimilar geographical associations could be integrated together on one plate of food sent my mind into a frenzy of sorts you could say maybe. Even for those unfamiliar with any heteroglossia associative with the Nordic world-region, the word “Nordic” is commonly recognized as having something to do with the northern hemisphere or the northern-most human cultures and cities and, you know. Surely, coconuts had no place way up there in climates which could not cultivate the fruit and cultures which could not well know it.
And what of the Nordic could be ascertained in regions where coconuts grew, where they hung from palm trees in languid tropical solitude. So you see, I found this silly. But this silly stuff does not last long. What had problematically occurred to me were the similarities of these two ideas, if they can be called that. The inner layer of the coconut is white, like the snow-covered Nordic terrain. And look! I said! [makes vague coconut shape with one hand] This outside, it is dark like the northern sky this time of year, always dark in its limited exposure to sunlight.
So now here is this coconut, I said, with the light and the dark cover, and here is this region, with its white snow and its dark sky. These incidents of analogy have impossible life-spans in some senses I think. For it wasn’t long before it struck me that Nordic coconuts have the potential to serve as dangerous political propaganda. As, to call a thing a coconut which – according to some – ought not be called a coconut can work to upheave all things central and vital to coconut-ness, though I doubt very much that there is any such thing as coconut-ness. What’s more, those of the tropics who produce tropical coconuts have the potential to be very much excited by this notion of “Nordic coconut.”
But, René, I insist that this is no reason to stop your kitchen pursuits. Although I defer to call the food anything other than eventful [winces upon hearing himself say “eventful”], I predict that I’ll find myself in your restaurant at a later moment. There is something undecidable luring me toward your thought-provoking creations. I am sorry to have interrupted your activities or whatever like this. Continue on your way in that way which had you unaware of your continuing-on, if that’s something akin to what you were doing, assuming you were doing anything at all to begin with, which I very much doubt.