Thursday, November 11, 2010

In Praise Of Gastronomy

I kind of shudder to begin any public statement with "I was reading Good Housekeeping magazine today..." if only because I am a literary elitist and also kind of a terrible housekeeper. Does it help if I say that I was taking a break from a dense volume on the history of the English language and it was one of the only magazines available at work? No, it doesn't, because I could have chosen the New Yorker. Okay, I like reading women's magazines sometimes. Shut up.

Anyway, I was reading Good Housekeeping today and I got to their regular column encouraging women to get over emotional eating. (I was kind of surprised that they have this as a regular feature, but I suppose our culture does make it kind of a problem. Because heaven forbid we like eating.) This month, the columnist asked the question "What would you do if you knew you had a year to live?" Surveyed women often said they'd go right off their diet and eat all the delicious things they wanted to. When the question changed to "What if you only had a day to live?" nobody said they'd binge on chocolate. It was all "hug my family," "watch the sunrise" stuff. (Not a single "be shot out of a cannon," ladies? Do I have to do all the awesome around here?)

The columnist went on to point out that this proves that eating is really not as vital a part of our emotional well-being as we think. This I'll agree with, and I admit that my tendency to demand ice cream when I'm feeling low is probably neither healthy nor helpful. She went farther than that, though, to declare that the experience of eating should be secondary to the idea of putting fuel in our bodies to take us to all the other stuff we want to do. In principle, I suppose, but this rubs me the wrong way, and since in our weight-obsessed culture we don't often hear women talking positively about food, I'd like to speak up.

I love food. Like, for real. It's not just that I like not being hungry, or that I like tasting things that are good. Eating is a sensual, cultural, communal experience that connects people like nothing else can. Granted, the kind of comfort eating that happens at midnight and involves shoving fistfuls of Oreos down your gaping maw is, to use the parlance of our times, Doin' It Wrong. That's not the kind I do, though. Really satisfying eating is not about quantity. I can take ten minutes eating one bite and make it look like so much fun it should be illegal. (Just ask the guy behind the counter at DB Infusions chocolates. Or rather, don't. I'd be embarrassed if he still remembered my name.)

I particularly love making food, even if I'm not the one to eat it. I like combining ingredients creatively and seeing what I can come up with. I like cooking with people-- the way a pair works together in a kitchen can say a lot about who they are. And it's really, really satisfying being able to make a dish for someone that he or she will love.

So yes. This is written to a) attempt to explain why I have tahini in my hair right now and b) stand up against the idea that food should be stressful-- at best a guilty pleasure, at worst a constant battle. I don't count calories, unabashedly cook with butter, eat bites of other people's meals, and whenever I can, I choose to eat what I can most wholly enjoy-- physically, socially, spiritually. If I had one day to live, I would take the people I love out for sushi, then finish up with chocolate, wine, and cheese. And I would relish the living hell out of it.

Posted by Silent Five @ 9:11 PM

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Yes! Food is good! Let's cook together or eat somewhere fantastic right now. I too, cook with as much butter as the recipe calls for and delight in every delicious baked good that is delivered to me by a smiling first grader. Ok, maybe not every thing. The ones that have been touched by the kids or that they exclaim they helped with get thrown away.

Posted by Blogger Katie @ 8:25 AM #
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Word of the Week

gymnosophy [jim-NAH-so-fee]

n. Philosophical, amusing, or nonsensical insights realized when naked, as in the shower or in bed. (recent coinage: att. S. Galasso, 2010)

Victoria and Albert enjoyed a spot of postprandial concupiscence culminating in a night of gymnosophy and coffee and crumpets at dawn.

The Silent Top Five: Bacon-Flavored Desserts

1) Bacon cheesecake.
2) Bacon gumballs.
3) Bacon ice cream.
4) Bacon-orange bars.
5) Bacon apple pie.

Standard Disclaimer

This is all in no way meant to incur copyright-infringement-related wrath. I'm harmless. I promise. Oh, and if you're offended by anything I may post herein, I guarantee I didn't mean to do so (unless, of course, you are a humorless prig. In which case, go right on and be offended, with my blessings.)