Champagne! In English, Please

“French rock is like English wine.” John Lennon probably never imagined that the sarcastic nature of his words would become less clear with time, to the point, four decades and some global warming later, of turning into a rather humdrum analogy. Global warming aside, the fact that English wine production and French rock are doing well is due either to tastes becoming more uniform or to local identities becoming less distinct. In either case, it seems that each of them has found its groove: the economy knows no sentimentalism; no one and nothing is irreplaceable, not even know-how. The world is becoming blander as we turn aping one another into a competitive sport. Blind tastings have only one advantage: they bring everyone together in agreeing that the participants are suffering a clinical loss of taste. Here or there, and in our innermost thoughts, it is often much of a muchness; it’s only our pedantic and snobbish nature that urges us to deviate from the norm, and shame on anyone who “thinks different.”

While we’re waiting for “Champagne” to export its appellation, why not dream of Parmesan produced in the Urals or Roquefort in Bolivia: after all, coffee is grown and roasted in places other than Ethiopia; the recipe is ancestral and unique, but having been naturally (or otherwise) handed down, it is well known across the vast African continent, and now it belongs to the whole world.

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