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Introduction
I repeat: the pepper, if you please; for if it had not been for peppercorns,
then what is ending now in East and West might never have begun.
Pepper it was that brought Vasco da Gama’s tall ships across the ocean,
from Lisbon’s Tower of Belem to the Malabar Coast: first to Calicut and
later, for its lagoony harbour, to Cochin. English and French sailed in the
wake of that first-arrived Portugee, so that in the period called Discovery-
of-India—but how could we be discovered when we were not covered
before?—we were ‘‘not so much sub-continent as sub-condiment,’’ as
my distinguished mother had it. ‘‘From the beginning, what the world
wanted from bloody mother India was daylight-clear,’’ she’d say. ‘‘They
came for the hot stu√, just like any man calling on a tart.’’
—salman rushdie,
The Moor’s Last Sigh
The question is no longer one of knowing if it is ‘‘good’’ to eat the
other or if the other is ‘‘good’’ to eat, nor of knowing which other. One
eats him regardless and lets oneself be eaten by him. The so-called
non-anthropophagic cultures practice symbolic anthropophagy and
even construct their most elevated socius, indeed the sublimity of
their morality, their politics, and their right, on this anthropoph-
agy. . . . The moral question is thus not, nor has it ever been: should
one eat or not eat, eat this and not that, the living or the nonliving,
man or animal, but since one must eat in any case and since it is and
tastes good to eat, and since there’s no other definition of the good
[du bien], how for goodness sake should one eat well [bien manger]? And
what does this imply? What is eating? How is this metonymy of intro-
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