When did food become a required source of entertainment and excitement?
I must admit, I’ve often fallen prey to it myself. Recently, I found myself staring into my fridge lamenting that the wonderful, fresh selection of potatoes, lettuce, etc. was actually “boring”. At that moment, my mother brought me back to reality and kindly pointed out that food is not intended to be a source of entertainment. Duh. Yet, it had eluded me in that moment. I vividly remember my grandparents relishing a boiled potato or a slice of crisp bread with true and pure appreciation every day of their life.
So, what has happened to the times when having food to eat, let alone enough food, was a blessing to be thankful for? When the entertainment from food came not through bright packaging and the made-up stories it tells, but from family meals, conversation, culture, tradition, nature and all other factors that make up a healthy food system?
These days, colorful television advertisements sell happiness and lifestyle as part of processed foods that you can zap into a semi-edible state in seconds, though of course what you buy will look nothing like what you’re sold. Superheroes and toys elevate everything you really should be avoiding into a completely unrelated and unnatural dining experience. Eating has in some ways become an attempt at recreating fast food slogans in your own life. Are you lovin’ it?
Contrary to that very wide-spread problem, California in particular has seen a vibrant revival of an appreciation of real, slow food. With the abundance of farmers markets, excellent restaurants with locally sourced ingredients and the proximity to “America’s salad bowl”, one of the most productive agricultural regions in the US, it has been easy to be swept up in the enthusiasm for healthy eating.
The ironic part of it all is that as I move away from boxed supermarket purchases, I lose not ony the fake, industrialized foods and the fake entertainment they sell, but also gain real excitement about food. Turns out the sheer variety of real foods you can eat is much more exciting than anything a marketing department has made up. I stopped by the small Sigona’s market today, for example, as I missed the farmers markets this weekend, and walked out with a hop and a skip. Who was this person, excited to bite into her walnut-stuffed date, carrying baskets of nuts and fruits for snacking? Who was this woman, excited to take her life’s first bite of fresh fig, admiring its textures and visual beauty, sauteeing her own raw almonds in avocado oil and pink sea salt, marveling at the fun of squashing a ripe, red raspberry onto the ceiling of her mouth? Today, that woman was me, and it still shocks me every time I catch my pure enjoyment of handling fresh foods.In a way, discovering the foods I should have been eating all along makes me feel like an excited child all over again, and that’s a wonderful side effect indeed!
I never had any interest in cooking or how food grew or tasting new flavors unless they came wrapped in branding I recognized, but that’s all changed over the last year. Thank you, California!
What’s the latest thing you’ve tried that has expanded your mind and your tastebuds?