As well as exhibiting a renascent enthusiasm for food, Boris Johnson likes flowery language. He privileges obfuscation and distraction over clarity and detail; he thinks he is funny, charming. It came as little surprise, then, that his recently published Conservative manifesto has been described as “crammed with tortured Johnsonian similes.” “As with most of Johnson’s writing, the rhetorical backflips conceal stunted ambitions,” wrote James Butler on the LRB Blog.
During the launch of that manifesto, Johnson once again borrowed from the lexicon of the kitchen. Among the more ear-catching soundbites in an otherwise non-event was his reference to Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit policy as like “minestrone.” It’s not the first time Johnson has used the famous Italian vegetable, pasta, and bean soup, which broadly translates to “mix-up” or “confuse”, to compound rather than articulate confusion.
Asked by the Guardian’s Rowena Mason about the skulduggery baked into his party’s press Twitter handle dressing up as “factcheckUK” during last week’s TV debate, he took the scenic route through and to minestrone.
His answer, below, in full:
“I’m afraid the Twittersphere is not really my province,” he began. “But what I can say is, I’m informed that Labour have some sort of operation which is very similar to this [inaccurate] but... I haven’t followed this Twitter stuff [!] with perhaps the attention you’d like, Rowena, I will apprise myself of the detail because when it comes to trust in politics at this crux of this election... what we need to know, there is one giant fact that we continue to chase down ... like the hunting of the snark or the quest for the answer to Fermat’s last theorem ... the riddle of the Sphinx or the Bermuda Triangle, we still... the one fact that we wish to discover, the one hard crouton [!!] of fact that we search for in the great minestrone [!!!] of Labour’s policy on Brexit is what is the position of the leader of the Labour party on whether he wants to come out of the European Union.”
This latter-day Eurosceptic and committed Brexiter looks like he knows his way around a good bowl of potage. Less so an elegant and subtle bowl of minestrone — one of the finest European soups there is.