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Gastronomie: Tie and Jacket!

jeudi 12 mai 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Eoghan O'Sullivan (Alumni Office)
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The most recent issue of echo magazine includes a wonderful article by alumna Yesim Atayolu reflecting on the Ecolint intern experience. As a boarder herself from 1979-86, and the founder of the Ecolint Boarders Facebook Group, she was well-placed to provide an overview of life in the Internat.


Yesim Atayolu's article in echo #18; available online here (sign-in required).

Of course everyone that passed through the Internat has their own unique perspective, based on their particular background, the boarding house they were in, the interns and house parents they shared the space with, etc. I was intrigued to read a "thought piece" that Dalip Daswani (LGB '73) (pictured right) shared on Facebook, most recently in the aforementioned Ecolint Boarders group (which, no doubt Dalip Daswanilargely thanks to Yesim's echo article, has seen 30+ new members join in the past few weeks). My carefully considered "Like" on his post prompted Dalip to contact me directly, and together we agreed that his text would make for an ideal AlumBlog post.

The text below was originally written by Dalip to share with an Ecolint '72/'73 discussion group, but a Facebook comment by Manzo Nitta (LGB '67) inspired him to rework it to share with the Boarders. "'We all ate the same food cooked in the same pot' as they say in Japan", wrote Manzo.

I did wonder whether the text might be a little too provocative for our AlumBlog, but I think we should welcome perspectives that prompt us to question just how international our outlook is or was. As Dalip himself said, "Please read my tongue-in-cheek piece for what it is – just one person’s colourful perspective. None then should have cause to take offence of any sort, with the method in my madness..."

Gastronomie: Tie and Jacket!

Time it was, and what a time it was, it was
A time of innocence, a time of confidences
Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph
Preserve your memories, they're all that's left you


 

In spite of its international veneer - especially the boarding school with its broad multi-national cross-section, the atmosphere at Ecolint was characteristically nuanced in a rather Anglo-Northern European way.

The wardens at the boarding house were British. When confronted with a demand for once-a-week American burgers, no self-respecting Brit (Mr. Garstang) was going to take that lying down! The mere suggestion had been an affront, and its insistence felt to be petulant and offensive.

Ecolint’s internationalism was at stake and the robust multi-cultural fabric of the Internat had to be maintained; the path to harmony and brotherhood (read globalism in today’s times), was “accommodation”. This however invariably weighs towards the Elite

Thus the menu continued to remain puritanically northern European – gentle on the palette, docile on the tongue, and gastronomically apple-pie, i.e. bland and “neutral”!

So while we did finally get burgers once a month, and spaghetti bolognese and even the English adulteration of Indian curry (nothing remotely like anything I had ever tasted before or have since), there was naturally no allowance for even a once-a-semester Mexican, Venezuelan, Chinese, Thai,  South African, Iranian or even a Greek meal. Surely moussaka was European enough and would have been delectable for all?

So what if the parents of the children from those remote countries were paying five star tariffs! After all their wards were receiving the best Europe had to offer – a euro-centric international education, together with being taught the refinements of the Advanced Sophisticated Western Civilized Man, in this most unique of all finishing schools for which Switzerland was renowned.

Having conceded to the monthly burger, Americana was summarily trashed with Churchillian haughtiness; seething asides from both sides persisted for some time – quietly from the American boy, and as refined innuendo from the British Chief.

Reminiscing about boarding life and the cuisine at Ecolint brings me to a tale (p.127), in Anthony de Mello’s posthumous compilation of “One Minute Nonsense” stories:

When someone boasted of the economic and cultural achievements of his country the master was quite unimpressed. “Have all those achievements made the slightest change in the hearts of your countrymen?” he asked.

And he told of the white man who was captured by cannibals and brought before the chief prior to being roasted alive. Imagine his astonishment when he heard the chieftain speak with an impeccable Harvard accent.

“Did your years in Harvard do nothing to change you?” asked the white man.

“Of course they did. They civilized me. After you’re roasted I shall dress for dinner and eat you with knife and fork.”

 

Dalip Daswani (LGB '73)

 


 

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