Doughnuts, not food. Burgers, not food. Offal, sometimes food, but mostly not food except if used sparingly and on special occasions. Eggs, food, but not if described as, “farm fresh,” or, “local.” Anything you have never, ever seen on a menu, nor anyone you’re seated with that night has seen or heard of, not food.
Among the many great things about certain cuisines–Italian, let’s say–is the heartfelt-redness of the food. Meaning fresh, substantial, vegetable driven, and small portioned, with deep flavors and seasonality. It’s deceptively hard to cook this kind of food because you have to know what makes a great ingredient, and know, too, when to leave it alone and allow it to express its essence.
Certain Japanese dishes are like that: Udon noodles in a simple dashi. A good miso soup. Yakitori: Ever have stick after stick of grilled chicken?
The marvelous thing about food this good is that you don’t have to think about it: It’s so delicious that you enjoy the experience, and have space enough to connect to the people you are with and the thoughts and feelings within.