Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Meanings of Food

Doing the dishes last night, it struck me how differently different people see food. To TheWife, for example, food is medicine. The purpose of eating is to change the body's chemistry and cooking is an apothecary's art, preparing something to correct and improve health. Foods make you sick or better and the point of cooking ought to be to create that which makes you better.

LilBro, on the other hand, sees food in a radically different way. He's a gourmet and to him food is an artistic medium. The point of food is to look and taste pleasing. Color, texture, presentation are all part of the experience in a way TheWife would not consider. The ingredients are paints on a pallet and the kitchen a studio.

A friend of ours in the army sees food as nothing but fuel. It's just what you put in he tank and he doesn't much care about the taste and isn't much concerned about the content. Eating is just something you have to do, so get it done.

Acquaintances we have at the organic co-op where we shop see food as a political tool. Eating is a way to change the world. When you buy food like non-organic produce or processed "food" like Kraft macaroni and cheese at a traditional grocery store from farmers who grow crops for major agribusiness megacorporations, they argue, it is tantamount to making a political donation to a conservative PAC. When you eat organic, local, and vegetarian or free-range non-vegetarian it affects the entire system and changes the state of the country.

For my Mom, food is a gift you give to someone you are cooking for or for yourself. It is a chance to pamper or indulge. It is an opportunity to take time out of your day to do something nice for yourself or someone you care for.

Other senses?