Part-Time President of the Clean Plate ClubPosted: March 2, 2011
A question I get asked a lot is “So, are your parents, like, really into food, too?”
This question doesn’t have a simple answer. At best, it has a compound answer (since I have two parents).
But I would say neither of my parents has a great love of food. My mother eats small portions of simple food, usually quite slowly.
My father is often very busy with his work, leading him to eat quickly and indiscriminately.
Neither of them are very invested in food, which is fine. Food, I think, is another one of those things that you get out of it what you put into it. Sometimes I think I could be just as interested in video games or coleopterology, but I guess somewhere along the line I chose food.
I wonder sometimes how much people really enjoy food, relative to one another. I went to an exhibit at the Renaissance society about two weeks ago where the assistant director gave us a tour. During the tour, he mentioned that he never liked to go to art shows with friends and family. Just a day earlier, I started thinking about how I’ve stopped going to the movies with my friends and family. When I was in high school, and especially the summer after high school, going out to eat and watching movies at the cineplex constituted a huge part of social interaction. Of course, there were kids (especially math/science kids) who liked to go on hikes together and other people (more mainstream math/science kids and the people they were friends with) would go rock climbing. And there were other people who liked to do other things. But eating and going to the movies were the two generic, agreeable passive activities people my age would tend toward. And it made sense for us to do them when we did get together. Each activity would take up about three hours of time, which is about the length of time you can appropriately multitask and make small talk without running out of things to say.
So, I think my own interest in food really developed the summer after I graduated high school, when there was nothing else to do. I had a car, no job, a decent amount of money saved up and no shortage of dining companions. Since food was really the only decision I had to make, I started spending lots of time drawing up lists of things I wanted to try. Within a few months, I acquired a good breadth of knowledge of South bay dining options. Similarly, my goal for last quarter was to gain an introduction to haute cuisine in Chicago. I decided to retire my project this quarter and focus on something new. So I decided to try writing.
I did want at some point to clarify that I don’t really think of this as a “food blog” (even though I sometimes refer to it as “my food blog”). In my mind, it’s really more of an eating blog. Additionally, I’ve never considered myself (nor have I referred to myself as) a foodie. I know the term “foodie” isn’t exactly well-defined, but there’s something about it which I find off-putting. When I hear “foodie”, my mind processes the word as a portmanteau of food and yuppie. A foodie (to me) is a person who gets overexcited when things like bacon or cupcakes or bacon cupcakes come up in conversation. I find this sort of reaction is contrary to my understanding of my own relationship with food. I like to think that I care about food just the right amount, or at least approach it with a basic rationality. I don’t think food should be treated as an object of worship or subject to fanaticism, but with thoughtfulness, reflection, and moderation.
Coming from me, that last word may have caused some of you to choke on your coffee, but it’s true. To further clarify, for me, competitive eating and regular eating are two distinct ideas. It takes a relatively small amount of food to satiate me (small relative to the amount it takes to actually make me full). I like to eat and I like to compete, but when it comes time to competitively eat I’m all about the sport as opposed to gluttony. That being said, I’ve never been one to leave portions of uneaten food on my plate (more as a display of frugality and appreciation than overindulging). But either way, I think a good attitude toward food requires a degree of self control, which is often downplayed or omitted by self-described foodies. Lately I’ve been realizing that truly enjoying eating requires taking food down from its pedestal and appreciating it for what it is, rather than glorifying and objectifying it.
While most of you had probably reasoned out these conclusions years ago, these are the food thoughts which have been going through my mind this week.