Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Recipe for Anglican Fudge Falls Flat

In 2004, a special group of Chefs called the Lambeth Commission issued a recipe for Anglican fudge. After kicking it around for the past eight years, the members of the Anglican Communion -- that brand of restaurants, originating in England, whose house fudge is a specialty -- seem to be in just as much disagreement as ever about what should be in the officially sanctioned recipe.

It seems that in 2003, the American branch of the franchise, known as the Episcopal Cafés (USA), decided that its recipe for fudge would from then on include walnuts, even though they are not mentioned in the Bible. (The only nuts the Bible names are almonds and pistachios, but the Episcopalians contended that walnuts were not unknown to early Christians, who never went on record as condemning them.)  As for the Canadian branch (called the Anglican Cafés of Canada), it announced that henceforward, its member restaurants were free to vary the recipe on their own, and include walnuts or not as they chose.

The reaction from the rest of the Communion was swift. All the Chief Chefs gathered in London in October 2003, and issued a communiqué. They declared that fudge had always been fudge, and that to introduce officially sanctioned innovations into it at this stage unilaterally, without the consent of the rest of the branches of the Communion, was un-Anglican, and would lead to brand deterioration. So they commissioned the special report (the "Windsor Report") from the Lambeth Commission, and the rest is history.

Here is what the Windsor Report had to say about the decisions by the innovators:
The question that has been raised in relation to both the Episcopal Cafés (USA) and the Anglican Cafés of Canada is that in relation to matters of real and acknowledged importance to them, they have not attached sufficient importance to the impact of their decisions on other parts of the Communion. This in turn has prompted reactions from other franchises and individual Chief Chefs which offend our understanding of communion in significant ways.
Accordingly, the Commission recommended its own version of fudge, based on historical usage. It stressed that it would not be introducing any new levels of process into the Communion:
The Commission does not believe it necessary to introduce any new tier of formal process, or forum in which these questions should be addressed, but we take seriously the question of acceptability, and would want to emphasise that it goes far beyond the question of adding walnuts. What is needed is a change of outlook on the part of those involved in the process of baking fudge to take account of our bonds of affection and interdependence.
Then it recommended that the American branch
be invited to express its regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached . . .  and that such an expression of regret would represent the desire of the Episcopal Cafés (USA) to remain within the Communion; [that] 
pending such expression of regret, those Chefs who took part as bakers of the walnut fudge should be invited to consider in all conscience whether they should withdraw themselves from representative functions in the Anglican Communion. We urge this in order to create the space necessary to enable the healing of the Communion. We advise that in the formation of their consciences, those involved consider the common good of the Anglican Communion, and seek advice through their Chief Chef and the Archchef of Canterbury; [and that] 
the Episcopal Cafés (USA) be invited to effect a moratorium on the further production of walnut fudge until some new consensus in the Anglican Communion emerges. 
Similar recommendations were made regarding the Canadian branch. Then the Commission noted that problems were already arising with regard to those Americans and Canadians who were unable to tolerate walnut fudge. Since they could no longer obtain the traditional product in their dioceses, many such members had turned to other franchises in the Communion, and begged them to send them some. This was causing brand-name confusion, which the Lambeth Commission could not endorse:
The Anglican Communion upholds the ancient norm that all the Christians in one place should be united in their fudge-making. The Commission believes that all Anglicans should strive to live out this ideal. Whilst there are instances in the polity of the Communion that more than one franchise exists in one place, this is something to be discouraged rather than propagated. We do not therefore favour the establishment of parallel franchises.
The Windsor Report closed with a recommendation that a Covenant be adopted by all the branches of the franchise, which would lay stress upon the ingredients of the traditional recipes (not just the one for fudge) handed down since Elizabethan times and served in Anglican restaurants, and which would establish an orderly process for changing any of those recipes in the future. It attached a draft such Covenant for the Communion's consideration.

The draft Covenant did not propose any new bodies or structures in the Communion, other than a "Council of Advice" to advise and assist the Archchef of Canterbury in carrying out his tasks in respect to the Communion. It asked that each member franchise appoint a Liaison Officer to the Communion, and then spelled out the process of resolving any differences, as follows:
On discernment by the Officer of any contentious communion issue, the Anglican Communion Liaison Officer shall liaise with the Chief Chef [of the province] and the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion. 
Following such liaison, the Officer or Secretary General may submit the matter to the Archchef of Canterbury. 
The Archchef may issue such guidance as he deems fit or, as appropriate, refer the matter to the Council of Advice for guidance and, if necessary, the Chief Chefs’ Meeting, the Anglican Consultative Council, or the Lambeth Chefs' Conference to resolve the issue having regard to the common good of the Communion and compatibility with this covenant.
Notice that this original draft called only for the Archchef to "issue such guidance as he deems fit" -- in other words, the traditional recipe for Anglican fudge. In the process of developing the Covenant further, however, additional proposals for more layers, structures and processes were added, and the Anglican Consultative Council (consisting of Chefs, waiters and busboys, and regular paying customers) was given ultimate say about who would be able to use the brand (not really a new power, but one which it has had since the Lambeth Chefs' Conference first authorized the former's Constitution in 1968).

Now it is coming upon eight years afterward, and there is less agreement within the Communion than ever. Not only have the American and Canadian branches continued to serve walnut fudge, but many in them have insisted their restaurants will not be party to any Covenant which could restrict either their ability to decide what goes on the menu, or what ingredients any item contains, or whether or not they were still entitled to use the "Anglican" brand. Other provinces have already agreed to the proposed (and much-reworked) Covenant, but now questions have arisen whether the headquarters branch in England itself, under the Archchef of Canterbury, will adopt it.

Meanwhile, as the debate over the Covenant continues, a rival franchise in North America is growing, which calls itself the Anglican Cafés in North America (ACNA), and which serves only the traditional fudge. Americans and Canadians are thus not without alternatives, but there is as yet no indication on the part of the Archchef as to whether he will authorize the rival group to use the Communion brand in its signs and advertising.

The Anglican Communion, as is evident from what is now taking place in its ranks, is coming apart. There are those who say it was never meant to be a unified franchise in the first place, but they seem to be begging the question. How can something which was never together in the first place come apart?

What seems likely, if events continue on their current course, is that two brands will emerge from the conflict, if not more. The walnut faction has the highest-paid Chefs and the fanciest restaurants, but the traditional faction prides itself on the home-cooked character of its meals, which can be served up almost anywhere, and without requiring a fancy kitchen. In the present economy, the image of the walnut-fudge restaurants is seen as more and more of a luxury, and as a result its patrons are steadily finding other places of nourishment. Indeed, it is said that a restructuring will have to occur soon, in which some Chefs will be laid off.

The ACNA group, in other words, seems poised to give Episcopal Cafés a run for its money. The latter, in an effort to boost its business, is reportedly considering whether to add raisins or pecans to its fudge -- both apparently have their advocates from within.

Innovation, or tradition? In matters Anglican, as always, it comes down to who makes the best fudge.


  1. Spot on!

    (I can't say much more because when I start trying to combine the ingredients of fudge and nuts into a witty response, the metaphors start going in directions where no one is supposed to go)

  2. Underground Pewster,

    Perhaps you need to think a little further "outside the box." And, of course there is always the option of couching metaphorical ideas in other terminology, or even orthography.

    Taking my own advice above, perhaps this metaphor helps explain why CDSP is not officially named a "seminary," but rather a school of Divinity, a term describing a certain category of fudge, one which does not contain the fruit of the cacao plant, nor any of its imitators.

    Then again, considering my advice concerning orthography, each of the "branches" might be able somewhat amicably to retain the use of the term "Anglican," provided only that the innovating North American branches and their sympathizers might be required to translate it into an alternative alphabet. As an example, using the Greek alphabet, the name becomes Ανγλικαν.*

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

    *—It is left as an exercise for the reader to discern why the author of this comment might have chosen the Greek alphabet.

  3. That's the problem with some chefs. They value innovation and not traditional recipes. Those who value traditional recipes are being told that they just don't understand.

    SC Blu Cat Lady

  4. El Gringo Viejo rides in to lick the spoons with left-over batter. In Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, the Basilica de la Virgin del Roble, an amazing, massive Sistine style church in downtown is a favourite refuge for the busy, workaday world outside.
    The Bishop announced some years back that he would celebrate a Tridentine from the Olden Tymes (in Latin, etc.) on the Day of Saint Mary, 12 December.
    There was a bit of a problem, because the Basilica could only hold 2,000 people, but over 15,000 showed up. The Bishop was put in the position of doing "Latin Mass Marathon", performing 12 services during that day. Extra choirs were impressed, organists were changed out four times, acolytes were pulled out by the ears by their mothers from the atheistic public schools in order to serve at the Altar, and the people were amazed that the worshippers included large numbers of young people and men.
    So, in order to not sicken the flock with good, classical fudge that is adorned with fancy colours like cherries, and "charged" up a bit with a bit of rum around the edges, and consumed with background music that inspired and extra icing...the Bishop decided to continue the practice of serving the "Latin Fudge", but only once each month. It remains the most popular fudge. It remains very popular with 4 to 10 Masses said on those days, heavily attended by young people and men.

    El Gringo Viejo simply asks, and has always asked, "Why is it not well to remain the same, if it is well to change? Why does the Church force change upon us? Why do we need to suffer the implied accusation and condescension of Church authority that we who prefer the ancient way are Luddite and Neanderthals.
    We are not really fond of marihuana fudge, or fudge with marshmallows and celery pieces, or lite,low-fat,low-calorie fudge or porcelain fudge. El Gringo Viejo's opinion counts for little, but it counts. The Anglican Fudge Recipe Book should always include the recipe for thick, dark, extra icing, traditional, Old Fashioned, gooey, messy, rich...mysterious and certain in its value Fudge...real Fudge.

    El Gringo Viejo is exhausted. He's been slaving away in this kitchen all morning.

    Thanks to you all. The intelligence that pours forth on these pages is like the washing, heavy rains of Summer. Everything is rinsed clean, shiny, and the promise of Texas wildflowers and cactus blossoms to follow gives one an optimistic set of mind.
    El Gringo Viejo

  5. Fudge may be tasty, but it's not terribly good for you - with or without walnuts.

    Better to find an establishment serving fish, whole-wheat bread, and a quality pinot noir.

  6. Thanks, Doug. As an owner of a winery, however, I cannot let the "pinot noir with fish" remark slip by. About the only fish one can serve with a (light) pinot noir is grilled salmon. Having red wine with, say, Dover sole or flounder is culinary overkill, and would probably not be well received in the home of Anglicanism -- or even in France, for that matter.

  7. You're right, of course, but this is a case where one has to take into account local cultural context:

    1) I live outside Portland, OR.
    2) We have lots of wild salmon available (whether from Oregon rivers or from Alaska).
    3) If you don't mind being drizzled upon, the winters are mild enough that you can grill even in January and February.
    4) I live less than a mile from vineyards - and Pinot Noir (some light; some robust) is the type most commonly grown here.

    Sorry I didn't unpack the images of hearth and home that were in mind when I originally posted.