Monday, March 09, 2009

Will eat for food

Michael Pollan is asking people about their food rules in the NYT.
Here's my contribution:

Dear Mr. Pollan:
I grew up Jewish in Mexico City. In such circumstances, there is no such thing as leaving food on your plate.
For instance, my mom used to point out a friend of hers who was rather portly and say " he survived the extermination camps as a child and since then, he doesn't leave anything on his plate". If I left food on the plate, she would immediately invoke said friend or the malnourished children of Africa.
On the Mexican side, the deliciousness of the food makes it very hard, as well as the surrounding poverty. Again, it is insensitive to waste food when so many around you find it hard to come by.
America has created all kinds of products that resemble food and then given the world the newfangled chance of looking at food with suspicion, as if food was out to get us. "It has gluten, it has cholesterol, it's bad for you". In countries less bloated with abundance, food is welcome and sacred. Food is not seen as the enemy. As Chris Rock has pointed out, who in Africa would be lactose intolerant or allergic to gluten? However, food has become the enemy thanks to the invasion of American style processed junk food. Now people are suspicious of their own food culture, which is dangerous and appalling.
Good food is good for you.

In Latin countries, and I assume many others, the time for eating meals is respected, anticipated and savored. Eating is a social activity. Mealtimes are sacred. My biggest culture shock when I came to this country was to see people eating a pretzel in the subway or a sandwich at their desks, and calling that lunch.
One should eat at the table, usually in the company of others, be it family or colleagues or friends. But even when alone, you should be able to sit for at least half an hour and enjoy your meal in peace. What could be more important?
Never multitask while you eat.

Contrary to what many Americans think, food is not fuel.
Eating is not about cramming for energy.
One eats for pleasure and nourishment.
Food is pleasure, culture and civilization.
Hence, power bars and meals "on-the-go" are not food.
Because food is not fuel, portions don't need to be gigantic.
It's not quantity, it's quality.
Fast food can be fresh and delicious. i.e Mexican street food.
I find American processed foods and extreme vegan macrobiotic stuff equally scary. Neither qualifies as food.
Good food (and by good I mean tasty food, not tofu) will leave you happy and sated. Bad food will leave you in a foul mood and craving more.
Food is not sinful.
I eat what I love and enjoy it. My life is blessed.

No comments:

Post a Comment