The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

Mar 26, 2010

Aardvark To Zucchini

The wonderful Alan Davidson spent twenty years of his life researching and writing that magisterial tome, that bible for foodies, The Oxford Companion to Food. A collection of wryly loving descriptions of everything edible - from aardvark to zucchini - this book is probably one of the great works in the English language.

And, of course, my favourite art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon made a TV programme about it. The Man Who Ate Everything was shown recently on BBC Four. Andrew interviewed a close friend of Alan's, Paul Levy, with whom he travelled to China to investigate the foods of that land.

After eating such exotica as poisonous snakes and anteaters and things, one day Alan purchased a bottle of tonic. Alan had had a sip, and it had worked on him instantly. He was completely energised.

On the bottle, it proudly announced that it energised the generative parts.

To wit, an aphrodisiac.

Andrew breathed in the aroma, had a sip and pronounced it marvellous.

Now, in China, it appears, almost every possible animal - native or imported - is some sort of sex aid. (Which possibly explains why the Amur tiger and various tribes of rhinos around the planet are being decimated just to support the odd hard-on or two.) This particular concoction helpfully offered its list of ingredients.

Top on the list were: penis of dog, penis of deer, and penis of seal.

Andrew choked at this point.

At the end of the list appeared the mysterious entry: 'other ingredients - 65%.'

Paul Levy said that Alan Davidson wondered what those other ingredients were.

Alan Davidson was a teetotaller, and he couldn't guess the constituents in that 65%.

Paul said, "It's alcohol, Alan."

Which probably explained Alan's high, ahem, spirits.

They pondered then what to do with the thing.

Alan leered at him, said Paul. He positively leered.

"We'll give it to the ladies," he said.


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