Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Fascinating Food

Sometimes, if in the right state of mind, it’s very interesting to just ponder food. Think about what we eat, why we eat it, who chose to eat that specific thing first? Surely we can all agree that on the most basic level we eat for sustenance. But there is so much more, for thousands of years we have manipulated our food. We could, if we chose to, walk out our front door and begin eating whatever green sprouts we find or furry animal we catch, but we don’t! Let me give you a few examples, and examine them with a child like mind because I can Wikipedia their history just as easy as you can. How about your pantry basics….

Flour is something we can start with. So at some point there was a person who out of the blue rubbed some wheat between two rocks transforming wheat into flour. Okay, maybe it was an accident or something, but that person stuck with it and made something with the flour that was worthy of spending energy to rub rocks together to make the flour again in the future.

Sugar has run a full course in the great culinary race and lap’d itself. We have come all the way wrapped around sugar that we no longer want all that sugar and make fake sugar! Why do we even like sweet things anyhow?

Salt…..it’s a rock, why don’t we grind up any other rocks and eat them?

Salad greens come in all shapes and sizes these days. When we get a fun batch in at the kitchen we run our hands through it, pick out the weird shapes, or bright colors and ponder, just who, where, and under what circumstances did someone pick this leaf out among all the others, put it in their mouth, and decide, “yes, this is good enough to eat again.”

Artichokes are dear to my heart as they are in season and my fingers are currently stained from cleaning them. Upon embarking on cleaning a case last night I started to wonder how desperate the person must have been who grabbed a big thorny flower bud, stripped off all the leaves only to eat the base and choke on it, get another thorny flower, strip off all the leaves, remove the choke eat the base and decide it was worth all that work?

Eggs make me wonder as well. It just doesn’t make sense to me at any point to take an egg that weights maybe 4 ounces and eat it instead of waiting 6 months for a 4 pound chicken?

There are endless examples if you look around that will make you wonder, why, who, or how when it comes to food. There is a history to all these things now, but if you can make your mind think about things before this reasonable history existed, then you will find a lot of the food we take for granted very fascinating.

3 comments:

Rachel said...

You know what I've always pondered? Tomatoes and potatoes. Both are New World plants, yet I can't imagine Italian or even some Indian food without tomatoes, and I can't imagine Ireland without potatoes. Or Switzerland without chocolate? Hmmm.

Michael Walsh said...

You bring up a whole nother relm of pondering...food trandpotation. The sheer amount of trial and error is mind boggling. Also, think for a second about how easy food is now, ok...think back say 150 years. WOW, no refrigeration, no cans, no prepared food, no oven, no microwave, running water? It's crazy!

Cory said...

how did mcdonalds figure out that calcite(sp?) thickens shakes... genious or monster?