Simplicity is hard to understand. Its being hard to understand is also hard to understand. The usual way to understand something is to understand the relations among its parts. But where there are no parts and relations, but simply unity, the seeing must be immediate: you either see the simplest things, or you don’t.
If your way of eating is a way of life—not your own merely, but a people’s way of life—then it comes not through education, but through assimilation. I have a colleague from South Carolina who told me that he learned to open a car door for a lady when his father once upbraided him, “What’s wrong with you, boy? Don’t you know to get that door for your aunt?” It’s obvious. It’s a way of being in the world your people take for granted. Like breathing, if you think too hard about it, you’ll liable to lose your rhythm and your breath.
That’s no doubt why it sometimes seems to me that Gentiles don’t know the simplest things, like how to make a tomato salad. What’s more, they don’t seem to know that they don’t know. You really can’t explain it to them: either they taste the difference between ours and theirs, and what’s just right about ours, or they don’t. If they don’t, it’s a waste of breath talking about it.
Of course, my reasonable self grasps the proposition that such cultural differences are relative, and that in matters of taste there must not be dispute. It would make no sense to eat according to other people’s tastes, would it? And even if one entertain the proposition that some cooking may be judged better than other cooking, or even that our own cooking may be judged better than every other people’s cooking, would not the liberal‑minded interpretation of this fact be that our own had attained to extraordinary heights of superiority, rather than that the others were defective?
But it just doesn’t seem that way to me. It seems like the right way to dress a tomato should be obvious to a human being, upon a bit of reflection and experimentation, or, failing that, upon their first taste of our tomato salad. It’s obvious because it’s simple: taste for yourself. And if you don’t taste the difference, I can’t explain it to you.