Sunday, July 1, 2007

.....But Can He Cook?

Doc Savage is a mental and physical marvel. He is a world renowned surgeon, physicist, chemist, geologist, and biologist. He can do cube roots in his head on prime numbers in base 13. He can leap tall buildings - well, tall fences - with a single bound. The question we will explore today is... but, can he cook?

Sadly, no. We a e told that Doc is an abysmal cook, a fact that is somewhat surprising considering the fact that he is a world-class chemist who can whip up penicillin from moldy herbs and roots in nothing flat as he did in The Man of Bronze. Sadly, EVERYTHING he cooks tastes like penicillin.

Well, how did that happen? He was trained in all the arts and sciences of Western Civilization, but his scrambled eggs are tougher than vulcanized rubber and when he barbecues hamburgers it's like a breeder reactor making more charcoal than it consumes.

I propose that there is a good explanation for this and that it reinforces my argument that Doc Savage had to have been trained in the art of Sinanju. (See my earlier essay Doc Savage, His Crew, and Martial Arts

The basic diet of a Sinanju master is mostly well-boiled whole grain brown rice, various herbs and small vegetables, the odd piece of fruit, and the occasional duck three or four times a year. The Destroyer Canon describes the Sinanju eating technique as pulverizing the rice and other food elements into a semi-liquid paste by a long process of grinding mastication until there is no taste or texture left. It is a largely mechanical breakdown process that begins predigesting the food before it is swallowed. Considering how little the Sinanju master eats, he needs to obtain maximum nutritional benefit from every meal and that requires this extreme preprocessing of food. It also robs food of all flavor and eliminates the enjoyment of eating. This assists the Sinanju Master in maintaining his weight and allows him to survive on less food than a normal person while still functioning at peak performance.

In the Destroyer Canon we are told that the Sinanju Master's body undergoes a complex change in which parts of the nervous system hypertrophy and the GI tract is altered. The stomach of a Master rejects poisons. But early in Remo Williams's training, he ate a fast-food burger and his as yet untrained GI tract absorbed the food additives which imbalanced his nervous system and sent him into a coma. After more training, he was able to detect toxins and cause his liver to rapidly oxidize them.

Clark Junior began his formal training at the age of 14 months. It is very likely that one of the first things he would have been taught (AFTER how to breathe correctly) would have been how to eat. If he had been taught the Sinanju technique of mastication and had a strictly regimented Master's diet, he would have been thin bordering on asthenia. We know Doc was not bulky but well muscled, much more so than the typical Sinanju Master. Some nutritional compromise must have been reached to prevent him from becoming "too thin" from a cosmetic viewpoint. There were plans for Doc to be in the public eye and they wanted him to appeal to a western aesthetic standard. Probably, they increased the protein in his diet with additional calories needed to maintain an increased muscle mass.

In any case, the Sinanju methods of food preparation, mastication, and digestion completely dispense with the need for food to taste good. It has that added benefit of allowing one to eat virtually anything short of wood pulp (and with a special colony of cellulose disgesting bacteria in the gut even that was arranged according to my sources).

I surmise that this is why Doc never learned to cook. Food to him -- as for all Sinanju Masters -- was fuel and not a source of pleasure. You did what you needed to to extract maximum nutrition form every meal. You will note that Doc is rarely depicted eating in the Super Sagas and we are never told what his most or least favorite foods were. I think this is why.

But later on in life, Doc wanted to "smell the roses". You can see that in the stories from the late 1940s. And hanging out with Jim Anthony, who was a gourmand extraordinaire, Doc would have been encouraged to indulge in the delights of the gastronome. He must have eaten normal food before, but he did not APPRECIATE what he was eating until then.

According to my special sources -- which are unimpeachable -- Doc pursued the study of food preparation and cooking quite seriously and earned a DCA (Doctor of Culinary Arts) degree in the 1950s at NYU.

So this peculiarity about the multi-talented Doc Savage not only can be explained, but it also forms another link tot he him and Sinanju.

1 comment:

Julián said...

The shocking revelation about Doc was a horrible cook is from The Wee Ones (August 1945) (chap. 3): “Doc was an awful cook. His friends considered this remarkable for the reason that Doc had so many other abilities that it didn't seem possible he could be such a Ptomaine Pete when he got hold of a skillet. His friends didn't even consider his jungle cooking safe.”

Julián Puga V.

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