BIG BROTHER is due in a few short months. On television he is booked to appear everywhere short of Johnny Carson. In print the scholars and pundits are brewing an Orwellian frenzy. "1984" will be Revisited. Reissued. Reinterpreted. Whether or not next year Big Brother will be watching you, this year you will be watching Big Brother.
What to do? What every mythical grandmother has done through history: cook up an antidote. Start now, in the midst of the "putting by" season, to stockpile the delicacies of romance and individuality, the tastes of the pre-totalitarian era. And just in case Orwell should prove to be prophetic, as the ant who outweathered the grasshopper, you can unseal and uncork and defrost them in January, when the rest of the non-elite citizenry of 1984, the Outer party, has nothing savory left but a taste for history.
"I can remember lemons," said Winston. "They were quite common in the Fifties. They were so sour that it set your teeth on edge even to smell them." --quotations from "1984," by George Orwell, Copyright (c) 1949, Harcourt, Brace & Jovanovich Co., New York
George Orwell's pre-1984 world was that of a traditional English gentleman. Roast beef with the bottled condiments that tied England to its colonial tradition--chutneys, steak sauces and the midnight-black and puckeringly salty anchovy spread called Gentlemen's Relish, which Orwell required for his own personal high tea. The totalitarian nightmare of his device was fueled by pinkish-gray stew with a sour, metallic smell. Grim and shapeless meat that sparked no life in the taste buds.
Make ready with a cache of bottled steak sauce, your own, brewed from soy sauce and hot chilies; or pack a lemon peel-and-vinegar-sharpened Gentleman's Relish into jars to withstand the rigors of what essayist Mark Crispin Miller identifies in the forthcoming "1984 Revisited" (Harper & Row. $10.95) as "a neutralizing sameness."
"It is called wine," said O'Brien with a faint smile. "You will have read about it in books, no doubt." . . .Wine belonged to the vanished, romantic past.
The glorious vintage of 1982 will appear on the market in that dread and mythic year. And you can further preserve pre-Orwellian culture with this summer's peaches bottled with the last decade's brandy. Or ring in the new era with mince pie, the mincemeat of your own making to counterattack with seven kinds of fruit, four spices, sherry and brandy.
The wooden-seated carriage in which he traveled was filled to overflowing by a single enormous family, ranging from a toothless great-grandmother to a month-old baby, going out to spend an afternoon with the "in-laws" in the country and, as they freely explained to Winston, to get hold of a little black-market butter.
Store your butter as a hedge against the spartan future, but pack it away with that staple of British individuality, stilton cheese, or as shortbread, buttery and crumbly and faintly sweet from sugar of "silky texture . . . a thing Winston had almost forgotten after years of saccharine."
"It's coffee," he murmured, "real coffee."
"It's Inner Party coffee."
As the sugar goes, so goes the coffee. But you can have yours brewed ahead as a hedge not only against 1984 but against rushed mornings when you have neither time nor patience for anything more complicated than instant. Drop a cube from the freezer into a cup of boiling water and wash away the memory of Orwell's miserable Victory Coffee.
Of course, there are those who maintain that 1984 will never come. Futurist John Naisbitt, author of "Megatrends," having just bought a pound of Double Fudge coffee beans on his vacation, insisted from somewhere around the sands of Rehoboth, "Exactly the opposite is actually occurring. It's not centralized Big Brother; the central government can't even get 18-year-olds to register for the draft." Along with high-tech's ascendancy, high-touch is coming back, said Naisbitt. "Bottom up, the citizens are running this society."
Coffee beans in 33 flavors aren't the only evidence. The mass monstrosity fed by fast foods is turning out to be a cuddly kitten after all: Burger King is adding not spinach pills and factory food to its menu, but a 23-item salad bar and pita bread. And among the 100 fast-track companies cited by Venture magazine last month were not only Genentech, the gene-splicing company, but the equally fast-growing Mrs. Field's Chocolate Chippery, which is a totally family-owned cookie company with owner-operated stores.
Chocolate normally was dull-brown crumbly stuff that tasted, as nearly as one could describe it, like the smoke of a rubbish fire.
Maybe we have postponed or even silenced the forces of 1984. What bolster that belief are the likes of the newest vacation trend--the chocolate weekend--and the hottest snack trend--the chocolate chip cookie. Serve Big Brother a hot-fudge sundae, and soon you may see him peddling Chipwiches on the corner.
No less than Walter Cronkite has reiterated in his preface to the newest edition of the novel that "1984 fails as a prophecy because it succeeded as a warning." Yet even he warns that if the Orwellian vision has not appeared by next January, "there's always 1985."
Here are recipes for an anti-Big Brother campaign. STEAK SAUCE (Makes 1 1/4 cups) 1 cup vinegar 1/2 teaspoon cayenne 1/4 cup soy sauce 4 cloves, crushed 2 cloves garlic, crushed 4 shallots, minced 2 hot chilies, seeded and minced
Combine all ingredients in a jar and store in refrigerator for two weeks before using, shaking jar occasionally. Strain and seal or keep refrigerated. Serve as a table condiment for meats. GENTLEMAN'S RELISH (Makes 1/4 cup) 2 cans anchovies in oil 2 tablespoons wine vinegar 2 tablespoons water 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Chop the anchovies and rub into a pulp with the back of a spoon. In a small saucepan combine all ingredients and stir over low heat until mixture is dry. Rub through a sieve and pack into a small jar. Refrigerate. Serve, diluted with broth or water if desired, as a spread to use sparingly on crackers; or use as a seasoning. PEACHES IN BRANDY (6 servings) 6 medium peaches 6 cloves 2 cups water 1 1/2 cups sugar 2-inch piece cinnamon stick 1/4 teaspoon ground mace 3/4 cup brandy
Blanch peaches in boiling water for 2 to 5 minutes. Drain and peel. Stick a clove in each one. Combine the water, sugar, cinnamon and mace in a saucepan; bring to a boil and cook until the sugar has dissolved. Add peaches and cook for 5 to 10 minutes or until tender. Place the peaches in a wide-mouthed jar; stir the brandy into the syrup and pour over the fruit. Leave to cool.
Cover tightly and leave to stand in the refrigerator for about 3 days before using. MINCEMEAT (Makes about 3 quarts) 1/2 pound fresh beef suet, chopped fine 4 cups seedless raisins 2 cups dried currants 1 cup coarsely chopped almonds 1/2 cup coarsely chopped candied citron 1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried figs 1/2 cup coarsely chopped candied orange peel 1/4 cup coarsely chopped candied lemon peel 4 cups coarsely chopped, peeled and cored cooking apples 1 1/4 cups sugar 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1 teaspoon ground allspice 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves 2 1/2 cups brandy, plus more for moistening 1 cup pale dry sherry, plus more for moistening
Combine all ingredients except brandy and sherry in a large bowl and stir well. Pour on brandy and sherry, and mix with a large wooden spoon until all the ingredients are well moistened. Cover the bowl and set the mincemeat aside in a cool place (not the refrigerator) for at least 3 weeks. Check the mincemeat once a week. As the liquid is absorbed by the fruit, replenish it with sherry and brandy, using about 1/4 cup at a time. Mincemeat can be kept indefinitely in a covered container in a cool place, without refrigeration, but after a month or so you may refrigerate it if you like. POTTED CHEESE 1/2 pound stilton (substitute other blue cheese or cheddar or any leftover cheeses) 4 tablespoons butter, softened 1/4 teaspoon ground mace 1 teaspoon hot mustard (substitute curry or cayenne to taste) A few tablespoons port or (if other cheeses) sherry, if desired
Mash the cheese with the butter. Add seasonings and work to a smooth cream. If mixture is dry, add a few spoons of port (if stilton) or sherry (if other cheese) to taste. Pack into small earthenware or china pots, making sure that it is well pressed down. If you want to keep it for any length of time, cover the cheese with clarified unsalted butter. SHORTBREAD (Makes 2 9-inch shortbreads) 1/2 pound unsalted butter 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar 1/2 cup rice flour 1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour Extra flour and confectioners' sugar Granulated sugar for topping Cream butter.
Gradually add sugar and cream thoroughly. Slowly work in flour. Turn out onto a board floured with a mixture of confectioners' sugar and flour. Pat into 2 circles 1/2-inch thick. Pinch edges and prick all over with a fork. Carefully transfer to a baking sheet and refrigerate 1/2 hour. Bake at 375 degrees for 5 minutes, then reduce temperature to 300 degrees and continue baking for 30 minutes, until just slightly golden. Sprinkle while warm with granulated sugar and cut into wedges. Store in a tin, tightly covered. COFFEE CONCENTRATE (Makes enough for about 10 cups) 1 pound (225 grams) of freshly ground, regular-grind coffee Fresh cold water A large funnel or coffee filter Filter papers to fit the funnel Quart jar Pint jar with airtight lid
Put ground coffee in quart jar and add 3 cups cold water. Cover. Wait. Eight hours will give you a very mild cup, 12 one of good strength, 24 a really strong coffee.
Set the funnel, lined with the filter, in the mouth of the pint jar. Carefully pour the contents of the large jar into the funnel, grounds and all. When coffee has completely dripped through the filter into the jar, cover it tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to a week or put 2- to 3-tablespoon portions into ice cube trays and freeze.
To "brew" a cup, put 2 to 3 tablespoons of concentrate in a warmed coffee cup and add boiling water to fill the cup.