To prohibit, forbid, restrict, control and regulate is an immense pleasure, dear reader. It is, in fact, such a tremendous delight that you wish to enjoy it again and again and again. And thus, very soon, you will grow addicted to prohibiting.
Surely I need not tell you that in all of history there has not been an institution more ardently addicted to prescription and interdiction than our beloved European Union, whose rules and edicts and orders run into the tens of thousands every bloody year, imposing upon us all, to the most minute detail, standards, rules of behaviour, quality, design of products, packaging, gender equality, politically correct ways of consumption, speed limits, weights and measures, health rules, profit margins and what not.
Of course, in the long run, if you keep happily at it for a few fat decades, you will eventually run out of reasonable things to regulate. But… you are addicted! You must go on! You cannot withstand the urge! You must find new stuff to control and curb back in order to satisfy your insatiable craving for domineering. And so, of late, our Brussels Masters have taken to regulating the unreasonable as well.
And one of the most imbecile, absurd and abominable of them is surely the prohibition of this:
The innocent aceitero: a most functional, well-wrought metal container holding a flask of olive oil, another of vinegar, a jar of salt and a jar of pepper. This, our Beurocrat Solomons have decided, is a danger to public health, honest entrepreneurial practices, and consumer comfort (not that anyone ever asked a consumer his opinion, of course.)
Why, you may ask, is this devilish invention – which has graced the dinner tables of private homes and restaurants of southern countries for over a hundred years without any outbreak of epidemics or consumer revolts - a mortal danger to the health and well-being of the European population?
Well, so the Diktat explains, because it might just be that the hotelier does not live up to his commitment, and cynically fills the flask of oil with a product inferior in quality to the one he pledged to his client.
This is such truly tremendous baloney that I have a hard time convincing myself I should explain it nevertheless.
It is, for starters, total nonsense, because in all the many decades that I ate in Spanish, Italian and Portuguese restaurants, I have never ever anywhere encountered, on the menu or on the bistro walls, any announcement of the brand of olive oil that the innkeeper would put on the table. And where there is no formal previous commitment, there cannot possibly be a break of faith.
Secondly, this is the sheerest baloney because – as any veteran of Mediterranean cuisine is perfectly aware – it takes a customer only one bite to know exactly what quality oil he is eating. And a landlord who offers third rate olive oil to line his salads will quickly lose the clients he does not deserve.
And lastly, when it comes to perversion, the cure is infinitely worse than the imaginary decease. For WHAT do Our Brussels’ Masters prescribe today’s innkeepers to offer instead? Why, yes: pre-packed plastic of course!!! Instead of the clean, cheap, economic aceitero, the innkeeper is by Diktat forced to supply these so-called ‘monodosis’ cups of oil and minute flasks of vinegar, which come with proper labels so that hotelier cheating is out of the question.
Now surely, these products serve a fine purpose in certain settings (like when you’re going on a picnic or when you’re camping), and I highly recommend them on a voluntary basis. But when abused, they become wasteful, polluting and expensive.
Imagine, dear reader, ALL the tables in ALL the restaurants in ALL of Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, France etc etc, being supplied with these cups! As they are made of plastic, this practice produces an immense polluting heap of unorganic garbage every single day (and this from a EU which has the environment high on its list of priorities…) Not only that: whenever one of these cups is opened, but not fully finished, the contents are naturally thrown away. Do that 10,000 times a day, and imagine the tremendous waste, while there is hunger in Africa and Asia and even among the poor of Europe (caused, incidentally, by that same European Union which loves the poor so very dearly…) And then there is the price. I googled around a little and ran into the cheapest of the lot (not the one shown in the picture above). Its producer offered 140 cups of 10 ml contents for 12,29 €uros. That is 12,29 € for 1.4 liters!! Where a normal litre bottle of fine first pressing virgin olive oil rarely comes close to 8!
This Diktat is an abomination, dear reader. It is the seedy ejaculation of perverts who rule for pleasure. And it ought to be ignored and disobeyed by all people of goodwill, good taste, sophistication and culinary love. Not to mention those who think that all the funds we squander on Brussels ought to go to the poor of Africa, Asia, Greece, Portugal, Spain and Cyprus!