Breakfast at Auschwitz
In the recent London Evening Standard an interviewed celebrity food blogger was asked about ‘his favourite breakfast’. He found the question difficult. ‘It’s like bloody Sophie’s choice, isn’t it?’, he replied.
I once tried to explain to a young Indian lady what Auschwitz was. I started with the obvious. I then recalled my own discovery of Auschwitz which coincided with the death of god and astrology. I went on about a social, philosophical, metaphysical catastrophe… ‘Oh, I know, I know’, she got excited, ‘it’s about the boy in the striped pyjamas!’
I could be wrong but I doubt the celebrity food blogger was consciously referring to the film by Alan J. Pakula. A chance he was touching on a novel by William Styron is even smaller. ‘Favourite breakfast! Damn you, the Evening Standard journo!’ Suddenly, it emerged, from the depths of his thought constructed out of random elements of popular culture, a movie title with the ‘choice’ in it! ‘Wait, there was a woman’s name attached to it! Susie! Sophie! Bingo! Sophie’s choice! That will do! Isn’t Meryl Streep in it?! Favourite breakfast. Such dilemma! Come on! Say something clever!’
‘It’s like bloody Sophie’s choice, isn’t it?’
I could be wrong. It is possible that the celebrity food blogger knew exactly what he was referring to. A scene where a woman in Auschwitz concentration camp if forced to choose which of her two children would die in a gas chamber and which will continue to live in a camp. What if Styron’s novel really is the celebrity food blogger’s favourite book? As a tragic human being with his food-related pressing questions he should have a right, like Sylvia Plath before him, to exploit the socio-political catastrophes of the last century. Anyone suffering should be entitled to derive comfort from the Holocaust Metaphor! Perhaps, the celebrity food blogger is familiar with Julia Kristeva’s (now you’re pushing it!) concept of abjection. Favourite Breakfast at Auschwitz idea would be, therefore, a CAREFULLY DESIGNED threat to our sense of propriety. Not too shabby, Mr Celebrity Food Blogger!
I can’t decide what saddens me more:
A. The celebrity food blogger’s IGNORANCE
B. The celebrity food blogger’s BOLDNESS
Answers on a postcard. By the way, Sophie’s favourite breakfast was her son.