Metaphor and Allegory

A metaphor is a phrasal expression, which is used to make a comparison of unrelated objects and actions; an allegory is often said to be an extended metaphor.

An allegory, which is a substitute for another object or action, includes more fine points than a metaphor. When compared to metaphor, allegory can be longer passages of comparison.

“Books are the mirrors of the soul.”
– Virginia Woolf, Between the Acts

While metaphors are generally seen in literature, allegories are not only seen in literature, but also in sculptures, painting and a lot more.

French Paradox

The French have a diet in which they consume a comparatively high amount of fat and drink quite a lot of wine; yet, in comparison to the U.S., they have half the rate of heart disease, have a lower obesity rate and live 2.5 years longer.

Traditionally, cardiologists and dieticians have considered the staples of the French cuisine to be the worst possible diet choices for the cardiovascular system. It therefore begs the question: what is this (apparent) French paradox?

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.” – Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance

Firstly, the French have a culture of actually enjoying food. It has been found that during the day the French spend more time with food than Americans. Taking the time to eat more slowly in a leisurely atmosphere may be part of the reason why people in certain societies such as France have a better digestion.

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

Secondly, saturated fat (which contains vitamin A, D and B8) maintains our teeth, bones, gums, hair, skin, liver and kidneys. Scientists universally accept that trans fats – found in almost all fast foods, many bakery products, and margarines – increase the risk of cardiovascular disease through inflammatory processes. But the mantra that saturated fat must be avoided in order to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease has been proved erroneous. In fact, scientific evidence shows that reducing the saturated fat intake has increased cardiovascular risks.

The people with the highest longevity in France live in the Gers region, a Midi-Pyrénées department in the south-west of the country. It is no coincidence that the traditional regional fare is very high in saturated fats: duck fat is used for cooking, often combined with ingredients such as pork, goose, duck, foie gras and cheese.

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” – Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

Thirdly, wine improves cardiovascular health. The average French person consumes 16 gallons of red wine per year. On average, that comes down to quite a small glass of red wine a day. Red wine contains substance called piceatannol which inhibits the formation of new fat cells and prevents them from developing into mature fat cells. The compound blocks insulin’s ability to store fat. In fact, several researches have found that moderate wine drinkers show the lowest accumulation of abdominal fat among all drinkers.

As for the red wines of the Gers region in south-west France, the Madiran, Cahors, Bergerac and Saint-Mont are exceptionally rich in procyanidins, a flavonoid that functions as a saturated fat scraper in the bloodstream.

“I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.” – W.C. Fields

In short, the French paradox is not a paradox at all. There are proven reasons why red wine and food with saturated fat – from avocados to grass fed beef – are good for you. With intelligent habits, everyone can eat the most delicious dishes, taste the most amazing wines and generally indulge in culinary epicurean delights, and still be healthy.

“Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the ‘Titanic’ who waved off the dessert cart.” – Erma Bombeck

Paradoxical Pink

Pink is desaturated red, but it approximates in common usage to magenta, a colour which is odd in that it ‘doesn’t exist’ in nature.

On a colour wheel, magenta comes between red and blue, but red and blue light are at opposite ends of the spectrum. For magenta light to exist, it would have to have a wavelength longer than red and shorter than blue, which is clearly impossible.

So magenta, which is sometimes loosely described as ‘pink’, is a construct of the brain (‘a pigment of the imagination’): when we see red and blue light together, the brain interprets it as magenta.

Pink doesn’t really exist and this is why some optical scientists say the colour pink should actually be called ‘minus green’. 

“One should be a painter. As a writer, I feel the beauty, which is almost entirely colour, very subtle, very changeable, running over my pen, as if you poured a large jug of champagne over a hairpin.” – Virginia Woolf, The Letters of Virginia Woolf: Volume Six, 1936-1941

Funnily enough, in 2009, the Madison Common Council voted to name the plastic pink flamingo as the official city bird.

American Butter

From the 19th century onwards, particularly powerful US dairy lobbies in states like New Hampshire have demanded that margarine should not be coloured creamy yellow and, in some places, even managed to insist it should be coloured bright red to put people off from buying it and purchase real butter instead. This, to protect local dairy farmers from a decline in demand of their milk.

In fact, by the start of the 20th century, eight out of ten Americans could not buy regular yellow margarine, and those who could had to pay a hefty tax on it. The regulations and taxes had a significant effect: the 1902 restrictions on margarine colour, for example, cut annual US consumption by almost two-thirds.

As iffy as this sounds, it turns out capitalism got it right. Even though a number of shameless profit-obsessed lobbyists were only seeking to protect their businesses in the political arena regardless of effects to public health, animal welfare and conservation of the environment; they were, nevertheless, (albeit accidentally) promoting the healthy alternative: real butter.

“I shouldn’t think even millionaires could eat anything nicer than new bread and real butter and honey for tea.”
― Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle

Not only does butter taste incomparably better, it’s a natural product that human beings have been eating and cooking with for centuries without ­damaging their health. Why swap it for margarine, a highly synthetic and unpleasant-tasting concoction laced with additives and cheap, low-grade oils refined on an industrial scale?

There has been a growing body of scientific research that not only indicates that there is absolutely no reason to stop eating ­butter, but also leads to one inescapable conclusion: that decades of health advice, particularly in regard to heart disease, cholesterol levels and the consumption of fats and oils, have been plain wrong.

The scientific evidence is compelling and totally at odds with decades of official advice that we should all be cutting down on our consumption of animal fats. The exact opposite turns out to be true. People who eat more of the safflower-derived products are almost twice as likely to die from all causes, including heart disease.

And consider this: there is, and never was, any good evidence linking intake of dietary saturated fats with blocked coronary arteries and heart disease.

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

For so much of what we were told was gospel truth turns out to be plain wrong. Butter is not bad for you; in fact, it’s healthy, being high in vitamins, saturated fats which are beneficial to the kidneys for instance; it has the sort of cholesterol that is vital for brain and nervous system development and various natural compounds with anti-fungal, anti-oxidant and – therefore – anti-cancer properties.