Why Think About Food?

A new book, reviewed in the current issue of Times Literary Supplement (TLS), offers a remarkable, satirical, and insightful look at the ways in which food has become more important culturally than it ought to be: “You Aren’t What You Eat: Fed Up with Gastroculture.”  Written by Steven Poole, the work, quoted heavily in the TLS review looks marvelous.  I ordered my copy.  You should, too.  Nothing like the Brits to send up bluntly iconic nonsense.

And talk about biting the hand that feeds you.

But here’s the thing, and I’ve been saying it for decades: Food requires context.  It can explain affiliation, promote trade, be part of national identity, and help us understand race and class, but too often it’s just a facile distraction from, as Poole puts it, really crucial matters.

Nothing wrong with that: I love the bearable lightness of being.  But there needs to be more.  Much more.

After all, we are at war.

 

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