19 January 2014

Hell's Kitchen

One of the joys of travelling in distant lands is discovering new foods, and in our guides we always included a special chapter dedicated to local cuisine and booze.

That said, in our Guide to Hell—now updated with plenty of pizzazz as an ebook (for links, see our website), the section on food is comparatively brief. If the demons in Hell’s kitchen serve up anything, it’s sinner, generally boiled in a giant pot or roasted on a spit.

But Hell is the only place where the Eating Out section merges with Getting There, in the form of Gluttony. Yet few people know that Gluttony is a relative newcomer among the Seven Deadly Sins:
Ambition was the original Mithraic sin, but when it changed sides and became a virtue, Gluttony was called up from the second division to take its place. For centuries, this new arrival languished in the back row as a trivial sin, a caricature of a fat pink boojwah in a fancy restaurant. Gluttony charged back into Top Sin Status with the near-simultaneous invention of three-speed tractors, cheese-corn twisties, high-fructose corn syrup, corn dogs, caramel corn, corn-fed feedlot cattle, triple-dip ice-cream cones and above all that relentless and irresistible seducer of nations, the potato chip.
Of course, the one essential piece of advice is that daytrippers to Hell should pack their own lunches:
For those planning just a short stay, though, it's important not to touch a bite, or take a sip. If you don't believe us, take it from the Celts, the Lapps, the Jews, the New Caledonians, the Greeks, the Cherokee, the Maori, the Kwakiutl and dozens of other peoples around the globe. Folklore and mythology of all times and places agree: once you have supped with the denizens of the underworld, you're one of them, and you'll never get out.
Persephone's abduction by Hades provides the best-known example. One pomegranate seed accepted in a weak moment was all it took (some say it was seven; seven is a very important number in Hell). What was Hades doing with pomegranates? No one has come up with a convincing explanation for that one; pomegranates are usually associated with fertility; some scholars have claimed that the apple in the Garden of Eden was really a pomegranate.

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