Robert Farrar Capon on the onion … and paying attention

“Between the onion and the parsley, I shall give the summation of my case for paying attention. Man’s real work is to look at the things of the world and to love them for what they are. That is, after all, what God does, and man was not made in God’s image for nothing. The fruits of his attention can be seen in all the arts, crafts and sciences. It can cost him time and effort, but it pays handsomely. If an hour can be spent on one onion, think how much regarding it took on the part of that old Russian who looked at onions and church spires long enough to come up with St Basil’s Cathedral. Or how much more curious and loving attention was expended by the first man who looked hard enough at the insides of trees, the entrails of cats, the hind ends of horses and the juice of pine trees to realise he could turn them into the first fiddle. No doubt his wife urged him to get up and do something useful. I am sure that he was a stalwart enough lover of things to pay no attention at all to her nagging; but how wonderful it would have been if he had known what we know now about his dawdling. He could have silenced her with the greatest riposte of all time: ‘Don’t bother me. I am creating the possibility of the Bach unaccompanied sonatas.'”

41OOmnnYfqL._SL160_Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Entertainment, New York: Doubleday, 1969, 19.

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