The Kublai Khan and Almost Everything

June 29, 2011

In mathematics there is a very precise meaning for the phrase “almost everywhere.” For instance, a function is continuous almost everywhere on the real plane, if it is continuous on all but a countable number of points on the real plane. By an abuse of language, we could say an almost everything bagel is a bagel which has all but a countable number of things on it. Now, mathematically this doesn’t make sense unless we assume that there is an uncountably infinite number of things we could put on a bagel, and maybe there is. However, semantically the descriptor “almost everything” seems much more accurate for a topping that usually consists of little more than salt, garlic and onion flakes, poppy seeds, and sesame seeds (and since it is my almost everything I have swapped the onions for red pepper flakes). There is not much cooking involved in making almost everything, although I did try to dry my own garlic which is why it is so clumpy. Once prepared, almost everything is very nice on a variety of textural surfaces: crackers, dips, roasted vegetables and meats, plain bagels, eggs. Almost anything, really.

Not everyone likes everything, but someone does and that someone may well be the Kublai Khan. Allegedly Marco Polo encountered the Kublai Khan, and that is when garlic went West. Samuel Coleridge sadly neglects that important fact in his famous and surprisingly numerical poem. Sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and pepper are also eastern transplants. Everything in twelfth century Europe would more accurately be described as salt.

When I met him, the Kublai Khan looked like this:

As his biographer Morris Rossabi observes, this stage in the Kublai Khan’s life was relatively moderate. “Probably food, Chinese or any other kind, had not yet become a consuming passion; nor does he show any sign of being a heavy drinker, as later he would become. His alertness and robustness contrast sharply with his appearance in a painting executed in 1280. Two decades after assuming power in China, he had become grotesquely fat.”

Food, Chinese or any other kind, definitely includes almost everything.

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One Response to “The Kublai Khan and Almost Everything”

  1. popZ said

    I am leaving a reply in order to be notified. Now that you have accumulated an opus of posts everything is possible.

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