Charles Fourier, “Melons that Never Deceive”

VOLUME 3, pages 47-50.
Melons that never deceive, or prodigies of composite serial Gastronomy.
Let us give some articles to each of the classes of readers. There are those who love amusing demonstrations, connected to their favorite pleasures; the gastronomes are among this number: I attempt, in this mediant, their conversion. I suppose that they are already moved by the depictions of the refinement that the Passional Series introduces into good food. I will give gormandizing some more nobles colors, and present it as the principle aide of the economic views of Providence, provided, however, that this passion is developed in Grouped Series.
A little gastronomic debate will prove that by learning the theory of the Passional Series, we acquire the gift of explaining all the apparent eccentricities of nature, tearing down all the veils of brass. It is the melon which will serve as our interpreter.
Everyone knows the dictum, that melons are as hard to know as women and friends. it would be a true wonder if we could find a means of never being fooled by this fruit which bewilders the most expert judges. We often ask ourselves why nature has not attached to it some sure sign of quality and maturity; does it intend to make light of man? I will explain that enigma, and show a sure means in the societary regime of never committing any error in the choice of melons.
That would be a slight advantage, if it did not lead some something more precious: but if the method which will avoid all deception about melons can preserve the advantage in a hundred more important relations, it becomes very interesting to learn how we can introduce this judgment into the distribution of melons, this appropriateness that the Civilized order cannot establish either in little things or in great ones.
There is no fruit more generally suitable for all tastes than the melon of high quality, like the muskmelons of Persia, Astrakhan, Lower Provence, etc. Men, women and children, even animals, from the horse to the cat, are fond of the melon, which, for that reason, is a fruit of high harmony and unitary affinity.
However, this vegetable so eminently destined for man and his domestic animals is the most deceptive, as to appearances: it seems that nature has created it to mock the human species. Whatever care we bring to the choice of the melon, we are constantly fooled, especially in cold countries; and the tables resound with jeremiads on the unpleasantness of having paid amply for a good melon and only encountering a squash.
We take, however, when purchasing this fruit, some extraordinary precautions: we exclude women from it, as incompetent and uninformed in gastronomy; and in every country, it is not the housewife, but the husband who is charged with the purchase of the melon. Despite so much care, blunders are so frequent, that we joke about the one who carries a melon, it is so well known that the most deft buyers often find they have miscalculated when it comes to the opening of them.
What then was the intention of nature, when it covered that fruit with an enigmatic husk, made to mystify civilized diner? Did she want to fool these legions of double-dealers; to pay them in their currency, which is falsity? Yes: but that calculated irony is linked to some arrangements of distributive justice, impracticable in civilization.
In the societary order, the choice of the melon is as exempt from error as if we bought it already sliced. Let us explain the mystery.
Every agricultural Phalange establishes seven classes in its distributions of comestibles, which are,
1st. The command,             approximately 50 individuals
2nd. The sick and the patriarchs,  approx. 50
3rd. The 1st class,                       approx. 100
4th. The 2nd class,                       approx. 300
5th. The 3rd class,                       approx. 900
6th. Children from 2 to 4 ½        approx. 100
7th. The caravanserai, unlimited number
!K. A lot of animals containing the coarse dishes and waste.
Let us examine how none of these classes can be fooled about the melon or other comestibles.
Each day the groups of melonists, the cultivators and distributors of melons purchased or gathered, lay out the quantity necessary for the day’s consumption.
Moments before the meal of each of the classes, one carries out the probing and tasting of the melons for the day: we begin with the lot considered superfluous, and intended for the companies of the command and the first class, for the sick and the patriarchs.[1]
From these melons probed and chosen from among the best in appearance, we separate all the inferior for the tables of the 2nd class, who, paying less, should have the average quality. We then probe a mass of melons estimated as 2nd class, of which we accept only the precious portion to be mixed with the remnants of the 1st class. Then for the 3rd tables of 900 persons, whose meal is later, we probe the entire mass of melons to be consumed, the best of which is added to the remnants of the 2ndclass. Thus all the melons served at the tables of various degrees are not only well suited to the degree, but adorned with a mark indicative of their qualities; so that, far from having any error to fear, we see by indicative marks the real value of each of the melons placed at the buffet.
Let us conclude on the general conventions of that distribution. The pieces that are too small, the small bits of very good quality, which would not be presentable to the companies of the 1st class, agrees wonderfully for the children of the aforementioned class. After all the choices completed, they find some melons spoiled or inferior, which are left to the horses, cows, sheep or other animals, along with rinds of various degrees. The comes the distribution of the scraps from the edges, neglected although good: they are distributed first to the cats, then to the poultry and fish as fertilizer. The scraps of an inferior sort are divided among the animals of lesser value, like the swine.
Thus, not a man, not a cat, can be deceived about the melon, a fruit so treacherous for the Civilized, because they do not regulate the distributive order according to the serial method desired by God; method with which he has made all the dispositions of nature coincide. It is quite right that the Civilized, in these distributive details, are dupes of their social division or familial regime; and God exercises an irony as fine as judicious, by creating certain products enigmatic in quality, like the melon, made to innocently mystify the rebel banquets in the divine methods, without being about to in any way deceive the gastronomes who line up in the divine or societary regime.
I do not mean to say that God created the melon exclusively for that joke; but it was part of the numerous uses of that fruit. Irony is never neglected in the calculations of nature; you will see the proof I the article Inverse Pivot, pollen of the lily. The melon has among its properties that of harmonic irony, independently of other more important [properties], which there is no time to mention. It will suffice for this description of the combined uses of the melon, to disabuse ourselves of so many apparent/related eccentricities of nature. It is only bizarre in civilization, which is not compatible with the views of the Divinity, nor with the distributive system ruled prior to creation, and adapted to the societary state or regime of the contrasted, rivalized, enmeshed Passional Series.
It is, I feel, very humiliating to give way to such an opinion, when we have piled up 400,000 tomes to prove that civilization is the aim of God, and that is why the Buffons, the Senecas and other beautiful minds, prefer to claim that nature has erred in creatingthe passions and kingdoms, that to put into question if the passions and passions do not have another destination, and by what means one can determine that unknown destiny, of which the whole material and passional creation makes us suspect the existence, by its impropriety with the civilized and barbaric order.
Obliged to reproduce the different aspects of the fundamental truth, that neither man, nor the products of the various kingdoms are made for civilization, I have recourse, in this article, to the familiar dissertations, like the induction drawn from the uses of the melon in the societary state. I could support it with other examplesof the same kind, furnished by these products, like the melon, which appear made to mock men, only mocks the civilization incapable of using them.
Let us conclude by observing that in the civilized order where the work is repugnant, where the people are too poor to participate in the consumption valued dishes, and where the gastronome is not a planter, his love of good food lacks a direct link with cultivation; it is only simple and ignoble sensuality, like all those that do not attain the compositemechanism, or influence of production and consumption acting on the same individual.
I will take up this argument again in thetrans-amble, where gastronomy, which is only examined here in compositeuse, will be treated in bi-composite on another subject. It is enough, for “the moment,” to have demonstrated on this gastronomic trifle the disagreement of the civilized order with the dispositions of nature, the essential connection of the passions and the kingdoms with the series of industrial groups which we are going to deal with, and the impossibility of explaining other than by the societary destiny, all the apparent eccentricities of creation such as the rebellion of a couple of magnificent porters, the zebra and the quagga, more precious than the donkey and the horse, and which, uncontrollable for the Civilizees and Barbarians, will become mounts as docile as they are precious for the societary state. Nature, in refusing us the possession of these superb quadrupeds, mock us still more bitterly than in the traps of the melon.

[Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur]

[1] Nota. The first class, although the wealthiest, is seated first, contrary to the civilized custom which, by sedentary labors and an apathetic life, takes away the appetite of rich people, or hardly leaves them enough for a diné at nightfall. The opposite takes place in Harmony, where the rich, by a life which is still more active than that of the poor, enjoy a thriving appetite at their five meals, and will not put up with a diné that will take the place of the soup, according to the custom in Paris.
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