Today I read the article that Mr. Knight sent us from The Economist. I then saw Imogen’s post on “modernist cuisine”. This made me wonder. It made me notice that food is viewed completely differently by different groups of people, depending on their current situation, profession, and views. By “current situation”, I mean primarily whether they live in a rich country (like the United States) or in a relatively poor country like many of those in Africa.
The way I see it, people in Africa (or anywhere else where they are hungry or on the brink of starving do not, and currently cannot see food as a symbol of culture, art, or beauty in the way that we see it. They see it as fuel. They see it as a critical material in the race to survive. Constantly worrying whether one’s family will have enough to eat warrants this. No matter how hard we may try, we simply cannot imagine how horrible this must be. It takes precedence over all other problems. Being in that situation also means that one is most likely in a situation where one cannot go to college, be educated, and make a living for oneself; destined to be stuck in a hole of poverty. I think that the people among us who have dedicated their lives to solving problems like these (like Ellen Gustafson, whom we saw in the TED video, for example) have a slightly better perception of this.
This is all in sharp contrast to what we view food as. The fact that there is so much of it and that it can never possibly run out (or at least is perceived to be so) affects how we see it. We can appreciate the finess of a perfectly sweet chocolate torte. We can admire the beauty of the works of chefs who strive not only to create lunch, but to create art. It can be said that we see more, we see deeper into what the food actually is and what it can be, but some may argue that in fact, it is the opposite. We don’t realize what food is deep down, elementally, like the people who don’t have enough of it. We take it for granted.