Sunday, December 11, 2011

Occupy Pepper

I am the 99%.  I’m just like you and citizens everywhere who pay their tab yet have limited access to an abundant resource horded by the 1%.  I’m talking about Pepper.  We’ve all been to a restaurant.  The Salt is freely available, but of course we’ve been briefed for years on the ills of too much salt.   Pepper, however, is a different matter.  When you get your salad or your entrée, the server will appear with a pepper grinder the size of a Louisville Slugger and ask “Would you like some freshly ground pepper?”  Then the pepper grinding ceremony begins.  You sit expectantly as the ground pepper appears on your dish.  The server looks at you at first expectantly waiting for you to say ‘enough’.  However the expression changes to one of abject suspicion as the grinding continues.  Any more than 3 twists of the grinder and their internal alarms go off.  After all: you’re not doing the work for the pepper; you’re just expecting something for nothing.  Personally, I feel the whole thing is a childish exercise.  I am perfectly capable of seasoning my own food.  I don’t need to sit there while someone does it for me any more than I need him or her to cut my meat into bite-sized pieces.

Why is that pepper grinder so big?  Whole peppercorns are tiny, but pepper grinders are enormous.  Why is that?  It’s not like we’re splitting an atom here, we’re smashing up a little dried dot of nothing. We recently had dinner at a restaurant in Staunton, and the pepper grinders were – of course – unavailable for us at the tables.  They were also enormous, about the size of an average arm.  They could have easily been used at batting practice, or converted into a floor lamp.  The evil pepper-hording management stored the grinders on a large rack attached to the wall, a veritable arsenal of spice-grinding majesty in full view of the pepper-deprived population.

And why are these giant pepper grinders only found in high-falutin’ bourgeois restaurants?  Restaurants that cater to those with smaller wallets have salt and pepper on the table.  Of course, the pepper is pre-ground and tastes like dirt.  The little guy always gets the shaft.

Why can’t we use them ourselves?  Is there some kind of liability attached with grinding pepper?  Is it a dangerous activity?  Has the government issued some kind of mandate rationing our access to freshly ground pepper?  Is this more big government creep? Or is it just management being stingy?  Or is it both?   I sense crony capitalism at work for sure.

Maybe it’s an industrial conspiracy to addict the consumer to salt.  It’s freely available.  The more you use it, the thirstier you get, the more drinks you order.  Salt is the cash cow.  Pepper doesn’t make you thirsty.  At best, it’ll make you sneeze.  You’ll be using more napkins and costing the restaurant money. 

We need to fight this injustice.  Why?  Because it can only get worse: the next thing to go will be the fresh parsley garnish.  OCCUPY PEPPER GRINDERS!  Demand that there be a redistribution of pepper grinders to diners across America.  When you go to a restaurant, grab that grinder out of the server’s hand and use it yourself.  Demand every table be given a grinder. Protest corporate greed at establishments with limited pepper access.  Rise up I say, Rise up!  POWER TO THE PEPPER!…Paprika! PEOPLE!  Now:  pass the salt, and order me another drink.

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