Derrida’s rhubarb crumble

A query and its answers on ProZ, followed up by a quick Google, showed me that people do really talk about deconstructed clothing. I had only ever, I thought, heard of unconstructed, which I think means untailored. But in fact Collins English Dictionary mirrors my Google search: “having no formal structure: a deconstructed jacket” (although it does not mention the jacket potato and deconstructed rhubarb crumble I also found. Can anyone at the Cambridge Science Park in the UK tell me if that rhubarb crumble is baked normally and then dissected on the plate before serving? Because to my mind deconstructing implies dissecting, physically or otherwise. – I mean ‘deconstruction’ in the popular sense rather than in the Derrida sense). A deconstructed jacket would be one where all the seams have been unpicked. But of course, language change is not a logical thing.

But perhaps Wikipedia’s failure to find a definition is the answer:

bq. In Philosophy and Literary Theory, deconstruction is a strategy of critical analysis closely associated with Jacques Derrida, which aims to expose unquestioned metaphysical assumptions and internal contradictions in philosophical and literary language. However, because a deconstructive approach challenges the transparency of language (and especialy the ability to ever arrive at a single final meaning of a word), most of deconstruction’s key proponents would object to such a definition. Derrida especially avoided defining the term and resisted the attempts of later academics to turn “deconstruction” into a coherent strategy or system. As a result, it is all but impossible to describe deconstruction in a perfectly satisfactory way.

Copyright prevents me from adding Gary Larson’s cartoon of ‘Giorgio Armani at home’, which shows the distinction between deconstructed clothing and slobdom.

Crumble derives from German and Austrian Streuselkuchen – I believe this because we never had it at home – my mother (b. 1905) regarded it as newfangled. To quote

bq. Although crumble has been around as long as our grandmothers and great grandmothers can remember, there are no such recipes in old English cookbooks. They only began to appear in print in the twentieth century and it seems likely that crumble really came on to the scene during World War II.

bq. A crumble topping uses basically the same ingredients as pastry – flour, butter, sugar and sometimes spice – but is much simpler to make. (During wartime when butter was in short supply, cooks had to use whatever was available.)

bq. It’s possible that the great British crumble is a derivative of Streusel, a sweet topping for tea breads and cakes originating in Austria and Central Europe and almost always containing ground cinnamon. Streusel comes from the German word streusen, to scatter, [MM: if only language were that simple!] which is also how we apply our crumbly topping to fruit. Streusel has more sugar in relation to flour than crumble, and the result is a crisper (and naturally sweeter) topping. The Americans also have a version of a fruit-crusted pie called cobbler. The cobbler topping is sometimes used for meat stews as well as fruit.

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