戒單(2)中聽不中吃

這是燕窩,不是水餃,把燕窩丟進鍋裡煮,難怪把作者氣壞了。

菜單聽來或奇香異味,或金玉叮噹,或人間百得嚐,總之,主人或客人說得眉飛色舞,得意非凡,但在袁老眼中,如果這些名食有辱使命,那就拿去餵耳朵吧!故曰「耳餐」。 作者神來之筆是把尋常之物雞、鴨比做「豪傑」,珍物如燕窩反而是寒士,為什麼?

原文:戒耳餐 】

何謂耳餐?耳餐者,務名之謂也。貪貴物之名,誇敬客之意,是以耳餐,非口餐也。不知豆腐得味,遠勝燕窩。海菜不佳,不如蔬筍。余嘗謂雞、豬、魚、鴨,豪傑之士也,各有本味,自成一家。海參、燕窩,庸陋之人也,全無性情,寄人籬下。嘗見某太守宴客,大碗如缸,白煮燕窩四兩,絲毫無味,人爭誇之。余笑曰︰「我輩來吃燕窩,非來販燕窩也。」可販不可吃,雖多奚為?若徒誇體面,不如碗中竟放明珠百粒,則價值萬金矣。其如吃不得何?

【 英譯 】

What’s an “ear meal”? A meal so impressively expensive that hearing about it would make the guests feel self-important. Therefore, it’s food for the ears, not for the tongues.

Don’t they know that well-cooked, tasty tofu far exceeds a bird’s nest? Mediocre seafood is inferior to commonplace greens and bamboo shoots. I’ve valued chickens, pork, fish, and ducks as the “brave noblemen”, for each of the foods possesses its own character and stands alone as a main dish. On the other hand, sea cucumber and bird’s nest are “nobodies’, for they are tasteless, lacking character and hence subordinate to the taste of other food, like a man living under another man’s roof, with no will of his own.

At a certain banquet, I saw an impressive amount of bird’s nest being cooked in a large container in an uninteresting manner. While other guests rushed to praise the utterly dull dish, I simply laughed and said, “We’re invited to taste the bird’s nest, not to see it displayed for sale.” When a food serves a better purpose by showing it rather than eating it, large quantities mean nothing. What’s more, if the host wants to be applauded for his fortune and social status, why not simply place hundreds of gleaming pearls in the bowl and let the jewelry speak for itself? Why bother with food anyway? 

【今人趣味 】

耳餐的另一種可能,就是中國菜特有的詩詞化現象,聽來好像出入帝王將相之家,真相卻是村夫俗婦之所,令人啞然失笑,其中自我陶醉固而有之,但其幽默又令人會心一笑。如「虎皮鳯爪」(炸雞爪,虎皮指炸過後雞皮起氣泡的模樣)、「翡翠白玉」(青菜豆腐)、「水晶肘子」(凍豬肉)、「龍鬚湯」 (連玉米鬚一起下去煮的玉米湯)、「獅子頭」(大肉丸)、「銀絲卷」(饅頭類),最高明的則是「佛跳牆」(十幾種好食材同燉,十分喜慶吉祥,是閩語福壽全的諧音)。西菜是另一個極端,把所有食材全部老實寫出來,如泰式雞肉沙拉:雞肉條、生菜、胡蘿蔔、米粉、黃瓜、豆芽、花生,芝麻、上澆泰式醋醬(幸好沒有把酸醬成份也寫出來),洋洋洋灑灑一大堆,完全達到告知目的,郤失於想像力。

【 私記 】

袁枚雖有富貴悠遊生活,但未失文人真性情,他一眼看破食宴上華而不實之風, 創出「耳餐」一詞,也就是說,菜名及食材叫得好聽,但搭配、烹調錯誤,反而更令人厭惡。魚子醬吐司是不是「耳餐」?伊比利回鍋肉是不是「耳餐」?俗人如我,若遇此情此景,也必呼,其如吃不得何?

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