Who is Ophelia?

As a college student I read an essay that I would like to think has influenced my life.

The essay is entitled “Diagnosing and Treating the Ophelia Syndrome” by Thomas G. Plummer. I highly recommend reading it. It certainly provides lots of food for thought. Although, it is not an essay about food.

Someday you should really take the time to read the entire essay. But in the meantime, here is an excerpt that pretty much sums it up:

“In Hamlet, Act I, Scene 3, Laertes warns his sister, Ophelia, to avoid falling in love with Hamlet, whose advances, he claims, are prompted by fleeting, youthful lust. He cautions her against Hamlet’s “unmastered importunity” and counsels her that “best safety lies in fear.” Then her father, Polonius, begins to meddle. He knows, he tells Ophelia, that she has responded to Hamlet’s attention and then informs her that she “does not understand [herself] so clearly.” He asks if she believes Hamlet’s affections are genuine, to which Ophelia responds, “I do not know, my lord, what I should think.” Polonius answers, “I’ll teach you. Think yourself a baby. . . .”

In this scene Shakespeare has given us the essence of what I call the “Ophelia Syndrome. ” It requires two players, a Polonius and an Ophelia. It is condensed into these two lines: “I do not know, my lord, what I should think,” and, “I’ll teach you. Think yourself a baby.” Ophelia does not know what she should think, and Polonius, reducing her to the stature of a baby, presumes to tell her. Polonius pontificates. He purports to know answers when he has none. He claims to have truth when he himself obscures it. He feigns expertise by virtue of his authority. But his real interest is power: he clamors to be a parent to other adults and exhorts them to become children to his word. Ophelia is worse than naive. She is chronically ignorant, chronically dependent, and chronically submissive. She is an adult who chooses to be a baby, one who does not know her own opinions and who would not express them to an authority if she did.”

When I first started this blog, my husband and I were trying to come up with a good name. He suggested “foodophilia” which you learners of Latin might translate as “Love of food”. But when he said that, all my mind could conjure up was “Food Ophelia” -as in the doomed female  in Hamlet.

I love Shakespeare and I love Hamlet. But I especially love Plummer’s essay. I have a worn copy that I have carried around with me for these past 20 years.
So does this adequately explain my reason for naming this blog Food Ophelia?

Probably not.

Let me try it one more time.

It is tongue and cheek.

When it comes to food, sometimes I do not know what I should think.

I do not want to be an Ophelia. But I think it is easy to be one in our culture. We rely so much on experts that we have eaten our way into all sorts of trouble.

I am a Mormon. Yes, I am.

We have a passage of scripture, something we believe to be a modern-day revelation from God to the prophet Joseph Smith. It is known as the Word of Wisdom and it is the reason all the Mormons you know (at least the practicing ones) don’t smoke or drink or eat Twinkies. Okay, I am just kidding about the Twinkie part. But in the Word of Wisdom there is much information on the things we should eat, not just what we shouldn’t. The Lord gives as His reason for the revelation the following:

Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation

I think that the food industry is full of Polonius types.

I think that God wants us to think for ourselves, make decisions, and then take it to Him for confirmation that it is true.

And so, I am trying to figure this all out. I am pretty passionate about food because, like the rest of you, I have to eat it.

And so this is a place where I will occasionally ramble on about my food thoughts. This is me thinking out loud on my truth seeking journey.

And in the process maybe I will figure out what it is I think.

Okay, yes. Mostly, this is really a place for me to wharehouse my recipes so they are no longer floating around on index cards and grease splattered pieces of paper. I consider myself an average cook. But I don't cook anything I do not like. If you find anything here your family loves- all the better. You can contribute some of your favorites and make my life a little easier. That was a not so subtle plea for recipes.

Now, a caveat. I am not your Polonius. Although I may hold certain strong (who am I kidding-I am passionately opinionated) views on food, I claim no authority.

Don’t be an Ophelia.