Laws Concerning Food and Drink
Lamentations of the Father
by Ian Frazier
*Laws of Forbidden Places*
Of the beasts of the field, and of the fishes of the sea,
and of all foods that are acceptable in my sight you may
eat, but not in the living room.
Of the hoofed animals, broiled or ground into burgers, you
may eat, but not in the living room.
Of the cereal grains, of the corn and of the wheat and of
the oats, and of all the cereals that are of bright color
and unknown provenance you may eat, but not in the living
Of quiescently frozen dessert and of all frozen after-meal
treats you may eat, but absolutely not in the living room.
Of the juices and other beverages, yes, even of those in
sippy-cups, you may drink, but not in the living room,
neither may you carry such therein.
Indeed, when you reach the place where the living room
carpet begins, of any food or beverage therein you may not
eat, neither may you drink.
But if you are sick, and are lying down and watching
something, then may you eat in the living room.
*Laws When at Table*
And if you are seated in your high chair, or in a chair such
as a greater person might use, keep your legs and feet below
you as they were.
Neither raise up your knees, nor place your feet upon the
table, for that is an abomination to me.
Yes, even when you have an interesting bandage to show, your
feet upon the table are an abomination, and worthy of
Drink your milk as it is given you, neither use on it any
utensils, nor fork, nor knife, nor spoon, for that is not
what they are for; if you will dip your blocks in the milk,
and lick it off, you will be sent away from my presence.
When you have drunk, let the empty cup then remain upon the
table, and do not bite it upon its edge and by your teeth
hold it to your face in order to make noises in it sounding
like a duck: for you will be sent away from my presence.
When you chew your food, keep your mouth closed until you
have swallowed, and do not open it to show your brother or
your sister what is within; verily I say to you, do not so,
even if your brother or your sister has done the same before
Eat your food only; do not eat that which is not food;
neither seize the table between your jaws, nor use the
raiment of the table to wipe your lips. I say again to you,
do not touch it, but leave it as it is.
And though your stick of carrot does indeed resemble a
marker, draw not with it upon the table, even in pretend,
because we do not do that, that is why.
And though the pieces of broccoli are very like small trees,
do not stand them upright to make a forest, because we do
not do that, that is why.
Sit just as I have told you, and do not lean to one side or
the other, nor slide down until you are nearly slid away.
Heed me; for if you sit like that, your hair will go into
And now behold.....even as I have said, it has come to pass.
*Laws Pertaining to Dessert*
For as we judge between the plate that is unclean and the
plate that is clean, saying first, if the plate is clean,
then you shall have dessert.
But of the unclean plate, the laws are these:
If ye have eaten most of your meat, and two bites of your
peas with each bite consisting of not less than three peas
each, or in total six peas, eaten where I can see, and you
have also eaten enough of your potatoes to fill two forks,
both forkfuls eaten where I can see, then ye shall have
But if ye eat a lesser number of peas, and yet ye eat the
potatoes, still ye shall not have dessert; and if ye eat the
peas, yet leave the potatoes uneaten, ye shall not have
dessert, no, verily I say unto you, not even a small portion
And if thou tries to deceive by moving the potatoes or peas
around with a fork, that it may appear that thou hast eaten
what thou hast not, ye will fall into iniquity.
And I will know, and ye shall have no dessert.
Do not scream; for it is as if you scream all the time.
If ye are given a plate on which two foods ye do not wish to
touch each other are touching each other, and your voice
rises up even unto the ceiling, while ye point to the
offense with the finger of your right hand; but I say unto
you, scream not, only remonstrate gently with the server,
that the server may correct his transgression and peace
shall prevail throughout the land.
Likewise if ye receive a portion of fish from which every
piece of herbal seasoning has not been scraped off, and the
herbal seasoning is loathsome to you and steeped in
vileness, again I say, verily, refrain from screaming.
Though the vileness overwhelm you, and cause you a faint
unto death, make not that sound from within your throat,
neither cover your face, nor press your fingers to your
For even as I have made the fish, and it is as it should be;
behold, I eat it myself, yet do not die.
*Concerning Face and Hands*
Cast your countenance upward unto the light, and lift your
eyes to the hills, that I may more easily wash you off.
For the stains are upon you; even to the very back of your
head, and there is rice thereon.
And in the breast pocket of your garment, and upon the tie
of your shoe, rice and other fragments are distributed in a
manner beyond comprehension!
Only hold thyself still; hold still, I say.
Give unto each finger in its turn for my examination
thereof, and also each thumb.
Lo, how iniquitous they appear.
What I do is as it must be; and you shall not go henceforth
until I have done.
*Various Other Laws, Statutes, and Ordinances*
Bite not, lest you be cast into quiet time.
Neither drink of your own bath water, nor of the bath water
of any beast of the field, or any fowl of the air nor of any
kind; nor rub your feet on bread, even if it be in the
package; nor rub your feet against cars, not against any
building; nor eat sand.
Leave the cat alone, for what hath the cat done, that you
should go forth and afflict it so and bindeth it with tape?
And hum not the humming in your nose as I read, nor stand
between the light and the book.
Verily I say unto you, you will drive me to madness.
Neither forget what I said about the tape.
[Ian Frazier, "Laws Concerning Food and Drink: Household
Principles, Lamentations of the Father," The Atlantic
Monthly, February 1997, Volume 279, No. 2, pages 89-90.]