On Gastronomic Sin and Adulthood
In reflecting recently on food and its counterpart, eating, I have formulated two ideas: to eat is an eternal sin, and that the Western right of passage to adulthood involves cooking your first turkey.
Whether you “eat to live” or “live to eat,” one’s philosophy for food is mere annotation when our species, in general, needs to consume plant and/or animal products, digest them, and poop ’em out just to do the whole shebang again a few hours later. In many ways our situation is more like “eat to eat.”
So I’ll touch upon a couple of these many ways that have led me to such a view. For one, since I’ve undertaken the competitive side of my new sport, as well kicking around in my old one a bit more rigorously, so too I’ve noticing a spike in my calorie intake. As in I am eating a lot more, all the time. I stare slack-jawed at the monitor as much as I stare slack-jawed at the fridge and cupboard, scanning like a hyena for foodstuffs requiring the least amount of effort to prepare.
It’s more than laziness. The reason I’ve come up with is that I’m so dedicated to my pursuits as to not have the energy for that bourgeois past time, cooking. Thus honey sucked straight from the bottle, chased with a smear of peanut butter on a butter knife, is lunch.
I’m a student diner again. But even the most inactive armchair barbarian needs to eat all the time. I could (if I wanted to) sleep in for 12 hours and spend the next 12 watching Buffy re-runs and still eat four full meals and as many snacks. And whether your definition of meal is “oven-glazed brill served with fennel cream, anchovies, and roasted currants, then a stew of suckling pig that has been slow-cooked in a red-wine sauce thickened with its own blood, onions, and bacon,”* or Shreddies, there is no choice: you must eat something—anything—all the time.
Yet it still amazes me how much heat the human body produces. It is a factory of thermal production; consuming, digesting and seemingly giving energy away against my will. I start thinking about the chicken and the egg, as in, the analogy: do I eat so much just to run this factory? Or does this factory run because I eat so much? Either or, I could be in a coma for the rest of my life and still be sucking back an intravenous grocery bag everyday.
That old clich