Thursday, April 12, 2007

You guys, I have a metaphor!

And I think this one actually goes someplace instead of descending into mumbling and pictures of Julio and Corina!

I hear a lot of people saying that leading tango is like driving a car. Understandable, since the directional/speed dynamic is there, but sort of unfair to the follower, who puts in eighteen hours of ochos a week only to be called either the passenger or the actual car. (Nice chassis! Oh...hay?) So I've been trying to think of something that translates my feelings about leading into a more cooperative metaphor than 'a car'.

And at dinner last week, I found one! Because I like dinner. And by "one" I mean I found a metaphor, not a car. If I found a car I would sell it and buy shoes.

So, I'm of the mind that the leader is a chef in a restaurant for one, whose personal menu is available to the public. The leader asks the follower to dinner, and it's up to the follower/diner to agree to eat a chef's-choice meal off the menu. Once she agrees, she's pretty much bound to eat everything the chef serves, since she could see the menu right up front. However, if the chef doesn't cook carefully and ends up serving a strawberry dish that the diner's allergic to, or trying to show up and flambe her entree and her hair lights fire, you get a big-ass disaster.

Some diners are really picky eaters and choose chefs very carefully; they tend to be pleased with the meals to which they agree. Some diners agree out of politeness and end up eating a nasty, sandy meal that gives them food poisoning. This is sad, but if the menu reads "nasty, sandy roast beef", well, they sort of knew it.

And of course, choosing the chef is a matter of personal taste based on the menu. Some diners insist on the flambe dinner because they like their dining experiences dramatic; some diners are perfectly happy to sit down to macaroni and cheese. Everyone is in search of the perfect chef who will cook them exactly the meal they want based on the offerings on the menu; when a chef seems to create dishes specifically for the diner who's eating at the time, it's the ultimate compliment.

The chef has to adapt to each diner as she comes; some are new to gourmet cooking and might not be able to appreciate some of the funkier items the chef knows he can cook; some have sophisticated palettes that have been trained for years, and if the chef drops cilantro into anything she'll beat him with a stick until he's dead. However, since the chef ASKS the diner to come and eat, he has to understand demands and limitations, and good cooking comes when the chef works within them.

The diner should try to eat each dish correctly and with good form, using all proper utensils, and avoiding faux pas: making sure not to put cheese on seafood dishes, for example. The diner should wait for the next course without trying to second-guess the chef.

The diner has a right to leave at any time, for any reason. She's a guest, not a prisoner. A professional, mature chef will not throw a hissy if this happens, and instead perhaps re-examine his menu.

Unacceptable: molesting the diner, cooking dishes at lightning speed and getting angry if the diner can't eat it all instantaneously in time for the next dish, cooking the same dish six times and insisting they're all different dishes.

You get the idea. I feel like this is a much nicer metaphor than the car one, because the act of cooking itself involves the innate desire to please, rather than to control, and makes the leader's responsibility one of caring for the follower, of providing for her.

Or, I'm hungry.


Debbi said...

(When's dinner? I'm starving...)

La Tanguera said...


This is a great metaphor, and certainly, so much more pleasant than the car one. I'm not really sure if I liked it when, dancing for the first time with a leader at a festival, he exclaimed: "Oh, you are a porsche!". I know it was meant to be a compliment, and still... I'd much rather have your cook...!

miss tango in her eyes said...

mmm...macaroni and cheese. We don´t really have cheddar here. What would be a good replacement?

Debbi said...

Miss Tango -
An very yummy cheddar replacement is gouda, or havarti.... also any really good melty goat cheese are fabulous, kind of tangy and tasty... ok, now I am REALLY hungry!

Tina said...

I love coming up with tango metaphors! Yay! We should have a girl blogger slumber party (or girl's night out) where we all drink wine and come up with tango metaphors. seriously. :-)

24tango said...


That was fabulous!

I loved your detailing the metaphor you used with such care by including practical examples.

Personally I can not wait for the publication of these and more suggestions of these (recipes) to follow - or should I say "Lead"? :o)