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LAURENCE CHELLALI

The ingenue and the vegetable

I no longer know how to speak, I no longer know how to read, I no longer know how to write. One heck of a downfall! Imagine that: I, so naturally talkative and avid of reading, from one day to the next I find myself mute and illiterate. And worse, there is little hope that this can be fixed.

What is left for me to express about my encounter with China? How to explain that here so many things seem strange to me, unknown and mysterious?

So, I had to look at the heart of what links humanity and finally I found it! Food. Along with language, it’s one of the vital elements common to all humans, but it’s also a cultural marker, of what differentiates one from the other. Food is at once connection and distance. Paradoxical, isn’t it?

So, cooking will be my pretext for the expression of a certain cultural gap, or rather the raw ingredients I come across on market stalls and which are enigmatic to me. And which will remain so, as long as I am unable to read their names. Ask my fellow shoppers or open the dictionary.

Bewilderment can be a good thing in that it stimulates the imagination as well as memory. As if by enchantment, texts I had learned in my youth have at times resurfaced in my mind and brought the necessary poetry to these harmless vegetables and fruits that had been transformed into wicked things by my ignorance. The rest is pure invention.

Inevitably, the result is amazing and often unexpected, a strange mix of known and unknown, sprinkled with humor and self-derision, in order to laugh, to smile. Because, yes, laughter also belongs to all of humanity, which, these days, it would be unfortunate to do without!

References :

  • Those who don’t know what’s in there, their eyes bug out like apples.” René de Obaldia, La Marmite.
  • Turnip, radish? No! It’s a rock, it’s a peak, it’s a cape! What am I saying, it’s a peninsula!“. Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac.
  • I only think about vague things. Vague and very happy.” Robert Desnos, Couchée.
  • This is not a bouquet of flowers because girls don’t like the smell of onions.” Personal invention.
  • Here ends the great day of discovery. One observes, one dissects, one cuts, and one doesn’t know what one finds.” Personal invention inspired by Louis Aragon’s text «  Ici commence la grande nuit des mots ».
  • Good morning Miss Pip! Forgive my mistake: you’re not he apple I thought you were.” Personal invention.
  • We think it’s a gourd, a watermelon or a lighter flint. That’s a great help.” Jacques Prévert, Soyez polis avec la terre.
  • At the other end of the line a connection with enigma. Hello? Hello?” .Personal invention.
  • The earth feeds all, the wise and the fools.” Anonymous children song.
  • I hung my mind to the clothesline, next to doubt and ignorance. And I dry…” . Personal invention.
  • The goldfish try to pick a quarrel with the startled monster.” Théodore de Banville, Le thé.
  • To uproot oneself in order to discover oneself, even if it leads to a mystery.” Personal invention.
  • “Yellow flower, green leaf, purple stem. To choose what one wants to be, to be subjected to what others would want us to be. Down with dictatorship!” Personal invention.
  • Quantum physics says that it is our perception of things that creates reality. (Delta) root=leaf2 root = unknown.” Shrödinger equation :  Δ Ψ = p2 Ψ.
  • There is no forbidden fruit. Only temptation is divine.” André Breton.
  • Humanity is divided into two categories. Those who know and those who don’t know.” Personal invention.
  • The earth is blue like an orange. An affirmation to which I would add the worm is yellow like a turnip and the thing plump like a baby.” Personal invention inspired from Paul Eluard’s  poem « la terre est bleue ».
  • Glop, a tear falls on the seaweed and I feel destitute. Glop, another one. It’s starting to get very humid.” Personal invention.
  • Little Buddha, will I eat you raw or cooked? The fellow answers me: don’t take me for a gourd or an apple. I’m a good egg, but you won’t get me.” Personal invention.
  • Outward appearance: affable, protected by involucre of bacteria. Inward appearance: solanum lipopersicum var. cerasiform. Reproductive apparatus: 2 seed compartments. Conclusion: could be a new species of hazelnut-tomato.” Personal invention.
Translation notes

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