Favas and Fussell

In the garden, the favas are burgeoning. They’re a pleasure to pick, shell, peel, and eat, though a bit of work. They have a wonderful nutty texture and a lovely green taste. They are great sautéed with a little garlic, or added to a salad or stir fry.

While I was peeling them I was thinking about Paul Fussell, whose obituary was in the NY Times today. I never read his books, but Larry read me many memorable selections from Class: A Guide Through the American Status System. This dissected American society into groups from the idle rich to the institutionalized and imprisoned. Larry mostly read sections that distinguished the rich from the middle class or nouveau riche.  I remember that a truly rich person would never drive an expensive car. They’d choose something inconspicuous, like a four-year old brown Plymouth (when Plymouths were still around). There was also a point system–you had points deducted if your house had pictures you painted yourself or portraits of you painted by anyone. The quote in the Times is typical:

“Not smoking at all is very upper-class, but in any way calling attention to one’s abstinence drops one to middle-class immediately.”

In our house, Fussell’s been much quoted. I wonder how that affects our status.

On the other hand, I’d never heard of Eugene Polley, and according to the Times, this would have rankled. He was the inventor of the first TV remote, the Flash-Matic, an invention he felt was almost as important as sex. Apparently he never received the credit he felt he deserved.

Yes, the Times obituaries make great reading.


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