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Eel Bone Chips

from Wednesday, January30th of the year2008.

My god, so, last night, I et “Eel Bone Chips” up in Bar Masa and it was (a) one of the most beautiful little packages I have ever seen and (b) one of the most delicious snacks ever. Basically, it is the foot-long deep fried spines of several eel, presented poking out of a horizontal paper cone loosely tied up with ribbon. The whole thing is dusted with salt, pepper, and what I think must be powdered lime or perhaps even lime salt is involved…I’m not exactly sure because I ate them really really fast. I love the package, though. I went home and re-read the chapter Packages from Barthes’s The Empire of Signs which reads, in part,

The room keeps certain written limits, these are the floor mats, the flat windows, the walls papered with bamboo paper (pure image of the surface), from which it is impossible to distinguish the sliding doors; here everything is line, as if the room were written with a single stroke of the brush. Yet, by a secondary arrangement, this rigor is in its turn baffled: the partitions are fragile, breakable, the walls slide, the furnishings can be whisked away, so that you rediscover in the Japanese room that “fantasy” (of dressing, notably) thanks to which every Japanese foils “” without taking the trouble or creating the theater to subvert it “” the conformism of his context.

babas5_barthes_empire_02.jpgI think Barthes is sort of the original blogger in a sense; this collection of essays from 1970 is a departure from his analysis of the codes and signs of his native France (viz. Mythologies (1967)) and instead finds the author wandering around in a semiologically “extreme” situation. For me, the miniature nature of his writing suits travel-writing very well; I wish all post-structuralist thought was available in bite-size; having fought my way upriver through my fair share of Spivak and Derrida, it’s always the sound-bites that stick with me and actually inform my decisions in a day-to-day style way. I have always adored this Empire of Signs and there are some really choice little bits in there; I reference it almost every time I set out to write a piece that is slightly more “conceptually informed,” which in my case usually means that I have more non-musical references than musical ones. Anyway, if you think Gayatri should Blog, let’s all write to her and be like, get yourself OnLine.

Also if anybody has a picture of those eel chips, send them to me. I think one of the most horrifying things in the whole world is bloggers taking pictures of “fancy meals they have eaten” ““ this is one of those things where I think, if you don’t know why it’s wrong, I think we can never be friends. And yet, this morning, I found myself slogging through a series of these blogs looking for eel bone chip images, so maybe it’s not so bad after all. I did have to endure six or seven blogs of the specific nature “me and my Japanese girlfriend went to visit her family in Kyoto and sure ate some wacky things!” written by overeager white boys from Wisconsin. (I also found this which is amazing). Maybe restaurants that are going to charge $15 for a fried eel spine could hire a resident documentarian, like those insane El Bulli books that are like $250 but beautifully shot (I sat in the basement of Foyle’s in London 2 weeks ago and read one of them, barely able to support it on my lap…) Then again, maybe food is such that a picture only serves as a hollow sign, with only false meanings and the shellac of artifice.

But yeah. Eel bone chips. Desert Island, y’all.



    Flickr has everything. Just the other day I was craving soup-dumplings, but I didn’t have any, so I flickred them.

    Nico responds: Ooh, girl, you should have come over my house, it is soup-dumplings central up in here. Also, we should celebrate losing that commission. Thanks for the picture.

  • Barthes is the first blogger, ha!

    I wouldn’t say that food pictures are a hollow sign, but possibly more like an incomplete picture of an object that requires almost all the senses.

    Though taking pictures of the ephemeral does somewhat diminish the value of the object itself.

    I must try Eel Bone Chips.