Food and Feeling

Source: Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, by Michael Pollan

Not having a whole lot to show for myself in the cooking department lately, I decided to share a recent food related episode of The Moth podcast instead.  The Moth is a non-profit organization that hosts live storytelling performances and gathers stories from folks across the nation, then organizes ‘story slam’ competitions for the most entertaining ones.

Check out the most recent installment of The Moth podcast, in which writer Adam Gopnik recounts the hilarious story of differing culinary tastes that nearly destroyed his marriage.  I love it! If you don’t subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, you can simply click here to listen (and you can also avoid the ads by starting around the 2:30 mark)

In the midst of the story, Gopnik makes some interesting points about the self-imposed moral weight that food choices seem to have.  He says:  “You think food would be the most frivolous thing that we experience as people, but it’s the most serious thing, isn’t it? Because if you think about it, every mouth taste that we ever have becomes a moral taste. You taste something, you think you like it, and instantly it becomes a moral principle

Gopnik isn’t channeling the organic evangelists here — instead, he’s referring to the strange significance that food has for us and the strong feelings that food can produce.  People attach a lot of meaning to what they eat.  This ‘meaning’ can take the form of religious dietary restrictions, or cultural associations sold to us by junk food conglomerates (such as: pizza = fun), or even just personal taste.

For example, when I was a kid I used to experience both disgust and anger when served any form of squash.  Outraged, I named it “squish.”  But now that I’m older and (in some ways) more mature, I think about squash as a symbol of adulthood.  Eating squash gives me an immediate feeling of accomplishment, a weird satisfaction with my own grown-up-ness.


About Thomas

Thomas currently tutors Chinese, writes blog posts, and works in the non-profit sector.
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