The figurative language of Burkhard Bilger….

Reading time: Less than 2 minutes

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about a series of metaphors and similes from Burkhard Bilger….

As the mother of now-adult triplets, I spent several years deep in the trenches, feeding difficult, picky chicken. For several months, one of my three refused all forms of chicken while another refused all forms of pasta. Two major food groups — kaput!

Perhaps this is why I leapt on a New Yorker article by Burkhard Bilger with the irresistible headline Can Babies Learn to Love Vegetables?

What I didn’t expect was an article that would be both hysterically funny and jam-packed with figurative language. Even if you don’t have children, read this article. You’ll enjoy it.

Here are my favourite examples of his figurative language:

  • Building 500, as this facility was formerly known, has the looming hulk of an Egyptian temple: it was once the largest man-made structure in Colorado.
  • Food preferences are a chicken-and-egg problem. Do we choose them or do they choose us?
  • The taste-testing center for the Gerber Products Company is in a town I may not name, in a facility I’ve been forbidden to describe in detail. It’s a kind of baby black-ops site.
  • Across from me, a moonfaced girl in a white stegosaurus jumper, identified only as Judge No. 7, grunted and kicked her legs. She turned and gave me a long, level stare, then blew a raspberry in my direction.
  • This test, in other words, was a no-brainer. It was like asking third graders if they want to go to Disneyland. Really? How about Harry Potter world?
  • [Baby] Judge No. 7 had had enough. She signalled this fact by grabbing the spoon from her mother’s hand, slapping it to her forehead like a salute, and shouting “Baaaaa!” She’d eaten both dishes clean.
  • When my kids were young and peevish and a carrot could cause a revolution—when Ruby loved oatmeal but hated Cream of Wheat, and Hans loved Cream of Wheat but hated oatmeal, and Evangeline wanted no breakfast at all; when every dinner was like the Yalta Conference and the table like enemy terrain, booby-trapped with vegetables that could go off in your face—I took courage from Calvin Schwabe.
  • “Palate training” is the buzz phrase for this, though it makes babies sound a bit like interns at a wine bar. 
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