I had a rather pleasant fry-up at the Farm in Clifton yesterday. One of the things that made it especially pleasant was them serving the baked beans in a little dish. And sitting there eating my meal, I mused on how their choice to corral the beans might represent a fitting guide for moral behaviour.
I like baked beans. They are not my favourite vegetable, but I do like them.
I like unsullied toast. I don’t refuse to eat it if it isn’t, but I prefer a slice that is either dry or lightly buttered.
The standard layout for a fry-up is everything on the plate: sausages, bacon, eggs, toast, and a lake of beans free to shift as they will. Therefore, a significant proportion of fry-ups reach me with the toast already soaking up bean juice; either because it was placed in it to begin with, or because it has spread.
Swift rearrangement and the use of sausage barriers might mitigate further issue, but the toast is often beyond the point I can have it as I wish. And that also forces me to have bean juice on my sausages.
However, placing the beans in a pot prevents the spread of juice across the plate. So my toast is toasty, rather than partially soggy.
Clearly, this makes the meal more pleasant for me, but why do I consider it a microcosm of moral choice?
Some people like to wipe up the bean juice, egg, sauce, and whatever else with their toast. But nothing about serving the beans in a pot stops anyone from soaking their toast if they wish; the customer is free to pour the beans over their toast. No one is forced to have beans on their toast, though. Which is where the wider moral guide comes in.
If you have a choice between two situations, choose the one that doesn’t take away someone else’s choice.