On food

For some time now my flatmate and I have been wondering about a sudden shift in our attitude towards food. Long before we actually started cooking, we maintained that food was for the ones’ with gustatory inclinations; food was important to those who were incapable of harbouring any higher level of sophistication and food mattered to those who mattered to no one else. Of course, it wasn’t as if we did not eat or did not relish the act of consumption. After all, whose tongue has not leapt with ecstasy after a bite of hot gulab jamun? Whose eyes have not moistened after a gulp of pani puri? We all have experienced pangs of hunger. We’ve also experienced the peace after restoration of internal harmony with the satiation of the same. But all these were momentary lapses, aberration as we can call them, which may extend for more than an hour but do reach a meaningful conclusion (usually but not always accompanied by conclusion of the sister state of flatulence). Neither the source nor the end mattered in our convenient process of consumption. Be it out of necessity or out of taste, our association with whatever we ate did not last any longer than the next sun rise. Eating thus was an act of indulgence and food was just an object of gratification.

But now food has become a way of life. Right from the second I wake up to the moment I sleep, my brain applies itself to the task of the day’s preparations. From managing the supply of raw materials to maintaining daily inventory, half of my day revolves around something to do with food. Either I’m cooking it, or eating it, or digesting it or thinking about it. Don’t get me wrong though. It is not indulgence as you may be so ready to conclude. Indulgence is not the luxury of novice. What is cooked in our house can best be described as eatable. Why then this obsession with food?

Well, to answer the question partly: we are guided by the principle of ‘Eat It before It Decomposes’ whose variants are ‘Eat It before It Multiplies’ or ‘Eat the Stuff before It produces New Stuff’. I suppose the idea is pretty much clear. With all our energies directed towards cooking and maintaining inventories, the supply of food usually exceeds the demand. Not to mention, we use our refrigerator effectively. But then, it is just a humble fridge, not God and it can at best only delay the process of multiplication and not stop it. (Whether even God can, is I suppose debatable). And of course we would not like to cause an offset in demand by consuming the outcome of such unhealthy augmentation. All that will do is create a glut in our little food economy.

So everyday, we end up eating more than we desired. The feeling is the same as the one so many of us have felt sometime or the other after coming out of a supermarket. Having gone through the traumatic experience of: searching for the way out of the confusing maze of arays, rushing for the shortest queue, waiting in despair for our turn and leaping with joy when it finally comes, we look at every article that comes out of the shopping cart with an awe as if the guy on the billing counter has pulled a rabbit out of his cap and ultimately, stand outside the supermarket with six bags in hand, wondering what had hit us. The key difference is that we are not driven by the pleasure or greed(remember we cook the food we eat). The idea is to consume before the onset of multiplication. Now we know why house wives are usually on the healthier side.

Talking of multiplication though, it is one of the central aspect of human existence and if the intelligent reader gets what I mean, he/she can rephrase the arguments developed earlier.

Humanity is still looking for ways to break out from the cycle of creation, consumption and multiplication (not necessarily in the same order).

to be continued…

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