Silly Questions: Food for thought

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FIRST, let us deal with important legal matters, writes William Hartston. Why are so many of the world's great legal minds contributing to Silly Questions? Michael Rubinstein gives the definitive reply: 'Because so many great legal minds already know the answers to all sensible questions.'

We move on to the topic of gastronomic order and why it is always egg, chips and beans. 'It is an example of the grammatic rule of Precedental Associative Dietary Grouping,' says R J Pickles. 'Bacon always precedes egg and chips in a group, as it does in a pair, whereas sausages take precedence when paired with chips, or in a group, even over bacon, which must maintain its links with eggs. Mushrooms are the exception which proves the rule. I hope this clarifies the issue.'

Stuart Cockerill says: 'Menus are arranged in descending order of durability. Sausages, for instance, are so full of preservatives that they will last for ever. Carbon dating at a local transport cafe revealed that the beef chipolatas were made with ingredients slaughtered by Boxgrove Man.'

Sue Palmer refers to the works of the 1970s culinary linguist Noam Chompsky: 'Every human being is born with an innate food-processing facility known as Chompsky's Lunch Box, which enables us to rank food in order of sophistication. Mushrooms (unprocessed fungi) inevitably occupy the final position, preceded by chips (semi-processed, mature vegetable), then eggs (unprocessed, immature animal product) and, at the head of the food chain, sausages (highly processed, mature animal). Young people prefer things further along the food chain, such as crisps, burgers, and Golden Drummers.'

'Which comes first, the sausage or the egg?' asks Caroline Hull, a member of the vegetarian tendency. Vegetarians have a much simpler life, says David Butland, sometimes they order nuts and beans, sometimes beans and nuts.

Ms Hull identifies four categories of foodstuffs: animal, potato, non-animal and bread, which, she says, must be listed in that order, although 'individual foods within categories are allowed to shuffle around quite a lot, unless the style of eggs is specified, when they must be mentioned first, except when they're underneath smoked salmon.' On the whole, she recommends the kippers.

Nicholas James says: 'Camembert, petits pois and Haagen-Dazs' is an example of the rule 'ice before peas except after cheese'.

No new questions this week. Next time we'll be catching up on the backlog.

(Photograph omitted)

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