People Who Think They Love Food
Stolen from Forcing Evolution, the book which will never be finished
I find myself sitting across from yet another person who is in abysmal shape, we have just spent fifteen minutes talking about the damaging effects that grains can have on the intestinal track, and then comes the statement that I have been expecting since the conversation began; “I can’t give up grains, I just love food way too much”. The dam breaks, the flood of rage is unleashed from the pit of my soul, and the rant fills the coffee shop. I hear this lie again and again from people who spend a lot of time shoveling food into their mouths, barely chewing before they swallow, washing it down with some delightful drink that could be used to clean engines. Most people don’t actually like food. Rather they are junkies looking for the next insulin spike and the subsequent big wash of dopamine to hit the brain after consuming a dizzying amount of sugar in the form of a healthy-high-fiber-whole-grain-super-good-for-you-please-believe-us-we-have-acai-berries cereal or pasta. I happen to know people who like food. They eat slowly, savoring a single mouthfull. These people do not sit down and consume an entire box of pasta in front of a television during a commercial break. Dan Barber and Michael Pollan love food. They speak passionately about it, create and enjoy dishes that have delicate flavors, and are usually come in serving sizes that are smaller than the pile of fries that got heaped out of a deep frier and onto your plate in a pub by an eighteen year old cook who just wanted an easy job. The vast majority of people I have met who claim to like food spend most of their time eating sandwhiches, bagels, sweetened drinks, and boxed pasta. Ironically they don’t even think they like vegetables because every time they have them they are overcooked and practically floating in some low fat butter substitute. A bagel is not the food choice of a person who loves food. An ahi tuna steak seared in wasabi and butter served with a side of oven baked asperagus that has been drizzled with truffle oil and lightly flavored with sea salt; that is a love of food.
Coffee usually acts as a good visual. A lot of people claim to like coffee, however I doubt this. Most people really like large servings of milk flavored with sugar and a slight smell of coffee covered in more sugar. Coffee on the other hand is should properly be served in something the size of a thimble and has such strong and distinct flavors that the drinker takes as much time to consume the coffee as the drinker of the milk and sugar concoction, which they would offer up in a trough if there was a way to fit that into a cup holder. We are a country of ‘food lovers’ that eat quickly in front of flashing pictures while trying desperately to find a way to distract ourselves from the fact that our food tastes like sawdust. That is not a love of food. It is perhaps a time for change, a distinct need exists for a change of pace in our eating and our cooking. Too often friends complain that they don’t have time to eat or cook meals. This is a dangerous comment when one sits back to look at it. While I openly admit to building recipes that pander to a faster paced lifestyle, it worries me to think that I am feeding this notion that it is okay to be too busy to eat. That somehow our work lives have become so important to us that we no longer have the time to feed ourselves. That is a denial of basic biology, and I would go so far as to say that it is a denial of humanity. When our lives have become so consumed with other activites that we no longer have the time to feed ourselves then a reevaluation must take place. Food matters.
It is this item that the rest hangs on, this notion that food matters. However when we have given over to the world of fast food and meals that can be eaten on the run, it is easier to dismiss the importance of food. Perhaps the place to start is with just one meal a day. A breakfast in the sun eaten slowly, lunch taken somewhere quiet with an actual table as opposed to eating off one’s lap or desk, or perhaps finish the day with family or friends over dinner. These would be excellent places to start a new approach to food. However to eat slowly and to enjoy the process then food must actually taste good. Delicate flavors must take the place of artifical colors and sweeteners. So yes a lot of what I push is a choice of foods that are healthy and build the body up, however I am equally in favor of foods that are worth taking your time with.
So the individual who made the comment about loving their grains looks at me from the puddle of tears and misery they have become, and as the red haze slowly drifts from my vision the comment is made, ‘But what else am I supposed to eat if I don’t eat grains?’ At this point the rage has drained me and it perhaps time for me to weap. I mean really, what else is there for a person to eat if they can’t eat from the entire central section of the grocery store. If you go to a coffee shop almost every food option they present you with is somehow laden with grains, and even the majority of items found on real menus contain little more than some colors to go on your bread. I am uncertain who to blame for this movement, somehow along with losing the time to eat food, we have lost a sense of what good food is. It is perhaps little wonder then that people eat on the run.