We as humans have to have it to live, it is an innate part of our rote existence as if there isn’t food there isn’t life, yet the world today is different and so is food. Thus, if food is different than that must mean we as the human animal have also changed too. As what has me thinking of this is the Hilton Hotel chain has just purchased a historic if you will hospitality property near me and made a deal with a regional college to open an attached “culinary” school to support the dinning pleasures of the guests.
With this the local media had a field day with the jobs this will bring and the trained Chefs which will be created for the rapidly growing culinary market. All the while I read of this, the food channel was on in the background with Iron Chef America in full throws cooking up an ostrich egg and durian. Yes it was a real challenge as I couldn’t make that one up with the durian! However again this all got me to thinking of what the world has become in the years which I’ve walked its dirt roads.
As growing up in the 60’s, the venerable McDonalds was fine food dining at the time and don’t say this so tongue and cheek as many Gen-Y’s reading this might think. For those old enough to remember that far back, 99% of the meals where prepared and consumed in the home during those times. Eating out was an adventure reserved for special occasions, typically very special ones at that.
Yet today is different, and while this post isn’t intended document the chronology of the changes in culinary appetites if you will. It is however about the journey we have taken and continue on today which interests me as for starters in the “day” there weren’t “Chefs” per-se there were “cooks” and in fact it was considered a menial position at the time. Also the act of carrying out the art of culinary creation was little lard (yea you remember that don’t you) left over from fatty grizzled up meat which was used as non-stick lubricant to fry up some side dish in a basic meat, starch combo.
However today there are high levels of sophistication in the process as Alton Brown tells us how beating pancake batter to much breaks down the glutton and therefore the proteins wont bind or something like that. As it is here that the epiphany strikes me two fold, as in the first the western world on average has reached a point of affluence where we’ve bridged Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as if we look at food being on the bottom rung if you will, it is a physiological need. Whereas we’ve now bound it [food] with “creativity” which is a component at the top of the scale being part of self-actualization which allows for the “creation” of a complex journey.
Here the second prong of the epiphany comes to light as man craves a “journey” and will do whatever it takes to create one. As in truth, a “journey” is nothing more than the genesis of a “story” as think about this, how many discussions do you have about meals? Remember telling your good friend Bob about that great steak place, or that absolutely horrible meal at the new Chinese restaurant around the corner? Yes Virginia, we have now reached a point where food is no longer simply a means of sustaining our bodies, however it has become a means of anthropological communication in the form of storytelling. Much as the honey bee does a dance to share the location of a tasty meal with its hive members. We too as the human animal seek to share the same feeding stories as regardless of the circumstance; the medium is the message…