Thought for food. . . .
I am enjoying a bit of leisure time since I just finished the last indexing project. It’s quite welcome as I had (unintentionally) overlapping indexes. When the last went off to the editor, the first thing I did was to hang and out-of-order sign on me and elect to have quality time with the cat and Kindle.
As someone with a confirmed interest in food, a lover of good food, I’m not sure I want to be called a “foodie”. In some ways that has the connotation of interest in the latest food fads. What I’m interested in is good food. I do think food is a multi-sensory experience. Presentation as the visual part of that experience has it’s place–there’s nothing quite so impressive as the presentation of fugu sashimi, or the aromas of cooking, or the temperature contrasts of a hot fudge sundae. But then there’s nothing wrong with the presentation of a plate of braised greens and sausages, either. I guess I want to be able to recognize my food (which leaves me somewhat ambiguous toward some of the molecular gastronomy presentations.
The presentation to the right (from Wikipedia) doesn’t make me want to sit down and eat, even though I love eggs Benedict. Perhaps it’s my age showing, but I’m interested in good food and I like it to look like food. I suppose part of this is that I have food memories stashed away within my brain, and these are visual as well as olfactory, tactile, and gustatory.
I’ll admit that the plate of sashimi does not look like a fugu (it’s not at all a pretty fish), but because of experience and knowledge of sashimi, it looks pleasing, and eminently edible (and tasty). Almost all cookbooks come with photographs these days (I have some oldies that don’t have any) so even as we start to prepare a dish, which have some visual imagery. We may be frustrated when we finish because ours doesn’t look like the styled one with the recipe, but there still a resemblance. A little at least?
There is a certain dissonance for me when I read a recipe that sounds wonderful, and then I look at the photograph, and I cannot recognize the food in the presentation–totally plated, stacked, towering, more like architecture than something I’m going to eat. Having worked in a kitchen, I know when my food looks as if it’s had someone’s hands all over it, and that’s fine to a degree.
When I’m not cooking, indexing, writing, or attending to the cat, I like to read about food so that’s what I’ve been doing for my leisure and relaxation. I’ve posted some of my favorite books about food and eating in the bibliography. The Art of Eating by M.F. K. Fisher is one that I pick up and read–well, I guess reread is more appropriate–often. There are also two collections by Roy Andries de Groot (In Search of the Perfect Meal) which are wonderful, also often reread. Then there’s the collection Elizabeth David’s writing: Is There A Nutmeg in the House. Or Richard Olney’s Reflections.
I’ve added a new one to that shelf food books (figuratively since it’s on Kindle) by Mimi Sheraton, called 1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die. It is a virtual travel-log, complete with telephone numbers, and links to places that sell, make, or provide food. Her descriptions are delightfully evocative, though admittedly lacking the first-had olfactory and gustatory stimuli.
If you really like food, and if you live to eat, rather than just eat to live, then I would recommend a trip to the library, or bookstore–even if it’s digital.