The way to a man's heart is through his stomach. But the way to a good meal is the communication of food with recipes, ideas, pictures and home-grown inspiration. Food photos, food blogging and the general fetishism of food has been a hot topic in social media. You are either pro food communications or against them, and there appears to be no middle ground. I think that's a shame.
A typical hand-wave sentence of dismissal of social media as a whole still sounds like this: "Oh, I don't have a Facebook account; I don't care what my so-called 'friends' had for lunch!" (Insert smug laugh here.) But the truth is that life is happening here in the stream of digital pages and what your granddaughter had for lunch is just as important to her as your Friday night football game was to you in high school. Knowing even a little bit about what a person you love (or care to know) loves goes a long way.
When I was a kid, I would flip through catalogues mesmerized by the counter-top appliances and the food placed within them. I had limited ability to identify the foods so prettily placed into toaster ovens and blenders, but I could be transported by imagining the tastes. The frigid milk and strawberry ice cream blended so cold and smooth and sucked through a perfectly fat bendy straw on a hot day was bliss. The power of that picture to move my mind toward a pleasant moment rather than the moment I was actually in (ahem, on the loo) never left me.
And the power to feel as well as share that is within all of us who love food. I think that the surge in agri-documentaries and food movies has more to do with our desire to connect to the planet and each other than it is to actually learn how to cook. Every morsel past our lips intended to fuel our cells is actually an invitation for the soil/food/culture of world to join us deep within. Think about it. We are literally swallowing the circle of life with every mouthful. In this disconnected time, there is no better way to pull humans to the (literal or metaphoric) table than to make it inviting, delicious and beautiful for them to be there.
Once upon a time, the community gathered at church, at the ball field or at the dance, but few of those places are thriving right now. What does pull us together is food. We celebrate, self-categorize and commune over a Netflix documentary or inside the mind of a chef as they explore the flavours of the world. The gung-ho carnivores choose sides as the equally staunch plant-based opinions are reviled. The science swings opinions as much as it self-confirms, but we at least we take notice. At least we are coming back to the table of discussion and debate which innately eschews the silence of disconnection.
There is a human impact as the age-old community table dwindles to single family meals and then drizzles down to a solitary Starbucks on the bus. Knowing where food comes from, who prepared it for us and with who we are sharing it is life altering. Choosing to embrace food, shake it into your own personal shape and share it holds a humble power peppered with joy. So what your friend had for lunch is far from meaningless — it tells the entire story of where they stand on politics, health and desire. If you are not at the table, it is only you who is missing out.
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