June 13, 2021

The amplified banquet – The Province


The meaning of food has always been of interest, but now it is of great concern. Who would have thought a few years ago that someone would have wanted to use social media to photograph and share their daily meals, or indeed, that someone would be interested in seeing other people’s dinner photos? Or that eating diet would become, more than a fad, a real obsession? That something as extremely nondescript as quinoa would be considered edible, soaked and wrapped in anything? Or that some of the most watched TV shows were cook contests or baking episodes? In an age when the less common ingredients of any meal are more readily available than ever and are seemingly consumed with less fuss or ceremony, we seem to spend more and more time thinking, looking at, reading, and writing about it. In this sense, food is like religion and indigestion: it comes back to haunt us.

We live the complete opposite of what MFK Fisher, the best gastronomic author I know, wrote in 1949 in her Alphabet for Gourmets. Fisher said he had a growing conviction that sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged lightly. «There are very few people alive with whom I am interested in praying, sleeping, dancing, singing or sharing bread and wine. Of course, sometimes the latter cannot be avoided if we aspire to social existence, but it is only endured because it is not necessarily the only way to feed ourselves, ”she wrote without feeling entirely proud of her misanthropic attitude. You just have to imagine the face he would make if he had had to live in today’s exhibitionist world, where anyone is willing to show intimacy without any problem and for free. It is true that exhibitionism, although scary, does not always respond to the same instinct of the human being. There are the exhibitionists who are conscious and proud of being it, and others who do not pretend it but feel happy showing what they are capable of or how well they are going through at any moment of their life. The dish they have cooked or eaten in a trendy restaurant or the last trip they have made. Or simply how to put a screw.

More than one foodie will have surprised himself spending time at the table talking about cooking


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More than once I have taken the bait, stung by a curiosity that I can’t explain to myself about what others eat. I mean mostly what writers eat and drink. Restaurant critic Jay Rayner, who has broken more than one pattern with his scathing reviews, argues that “food and drink are the writer’s friend.” I agree but it would be convenient, at the same time, to underline that they are precisely because both writing, a solitary act, used to share certain ideals of solitude with the intimacy of the pitanza, everything reduced to the company of a group of friends or family and when this was not amplified to the four winds with all kinds of details.

Within this amplified discourse of what we eat or drink, stop eating or stop drinking, there are, of course, prominent prescribers, some of them professionals, who are forgiven for vanity, if any. , for the great interest that their prescriptions have. But most are just as inedible as the very food they claim to have tasted or cooked.

Without being trapped by social networks since she lived another time, MFK Fisher also felt the punishment of the foodies of that time. He counts it in his Alphabet when it comes to restless or ambitious diners, hobby chefs, personal gourmets, and the luminaries of eating and drinking societies. «When we meet, in restaurants or in other people’s houses, they tell me a handful of sacrosanct and impressive details of how they spread the grouse with truffle juice, and then they murmur: ‘Of course I would not even dare to serve it to you’ Immediately they invite some potentate from Nebraska, who has never seen a truffle, to register the appropriate amazement in return for a Luculian and perhaps delicious meal, “wrote that lady, who so rehearsed the cultural metaphor about food. Fisher’s acquaintances, with each and every one of the tools that technology provides, would now be absolutely happy beings, not only to know themselves, but to be known by everyone else.

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