Tuesday, July 25, 2006

fine dumpster dining: tips for discriminating dumpster divers

I heard a story recounted by John Lahr about Barry Humphries in his younger days (before Dame Edna):

he would go to a bus stop trash can and bury a roasted chicken and a split of champagne -- wrap it up and bury it in the trash. he'd go away and dress up as a bum, then just for his own pleasure, just to see peoples response, he would root in the garbage and everybody sort of turns their head away because it is so humiliating; they just don't want to look at it. and then he would find this bonanza of champagne and chicken! and then just walk away with it. it was enough for him to leave this little surprise in those peoples minds -- those people who had seen that would always remember that moment of delight and astonishment. his private fun with the world inspires a spirit of generosity to be honored.

this clownish behavior illustrates our squeamish rules and accepted arrogance regarding food.

then there is George Costanza on the TV sitcom "Seinfeld" when he plucked a chocolate eclair out of a trash can and ate it (episode 92, "The Gymnast"). The scene has George telling Jerry how he was caught eating an eclair discarded by his girlfriend's mother. Jerry, naturally, is baffled.

Jerry: "So let me get this straight. You find yourself in the kitchen, you see an eclair in the receptacle, and you think to yourself: 'What the hell, I'll just eat some trash.'"

George: "No, no, no, no, no. It was not trash."

Jerry: "Was it in the trash?"

George: "Yes."

Jerry: "Then it was trash."

George: "It wasn't down in. It was sort of on top."

Jerry: "But it was in the cylinder."

George: "Above the rim."

Jerry: "Adjacent to refuse is ... refuse."

this if what I refer to as the Costanza "above the rim" principle (not to be confused with the Costanza rule of opposites which is "think of what you would normally do, and simply do the opposite").

...funny, but of course if you're hungry, you do what you gotta do.

so where are the tips? what do I know? I'm no expert. I'm spoiled and have never needed or felt politically compelled to eat from a dumpster. it's just not my way of life right now. I work at a traditional job for a living unlike this guy who seems to be living in some alternate reality where people send him money and he hasn't needed a regular job for years. somehow I have a hard time believing all he says. but he does write rather nicely... dumpster diving is more likely in my world. but like I said, what do I know? his web site is much more popular than mine. so here's to fantasy!

anyway, I did do a little research on the subject and related matters, so check the references if you really are that interested. and bon appetite!


"Rubbish meals a gourmet treat for freegan diners"