I recently saw Chocolate again, a beloved film that suggests that if you leave yourself completely to Cocoa, everything will be fine. For those who haven’t seen it, Juliet Binoche’s ethereal beauty has been embraced by the exotic-looking sweet poetic frame and the sensually aroused hot chocolate. It’s a lip smacker from a Phil Good movie and as soon as it’s over it will disappear from your head it doesn’t move a bit away from it
Like chocolate, every detail of modern life involves plenty of food. Someone I know posted this menu on their regular mid-week dinner Facebook. Just toss up, nothing special. Amuse-bouche was a watermelon and feta salad. Starter, shrimp biscuits, mains, quinoa and dessert chicken a la kiev, a raspberry mint sherbet. I know we’re living in an age of food but really, four meals a week on a Saturday night? What do you eat on the occasion, I ask. Heroin? Every meal, I was told with a great virtual smack, was “a celebration, cooked with passion”. A random check on what they ate for dinner with three friends was clearer than any ORG survey on how much our eating habits have changed over the past decade. There was a successful test of chocolate profiterol with broccoli soup, a salmon quiche and bitter oranges and pesto nuts.
Sometimes I think I am the only person who still eats dal-chawal most of the night. Alas, I’m not truly blue sophisticated. That provocative term has only taken over the world to describe the Wanabe gourmets who are looking for new experiences in food, dining. Cooking shows dominate the TV schedule and celebrity chefs have the social capital of Hollywood A-listers. Needless to say they are not entertaining but personally, I look at Anthony Borden because I think he is not sexy because I think about where to find the best crescents in Paris. As it turns out, anti-foodies are an uncomfortably small minority. My lack of interest in every food leads me into delightful delirium that makes me look like a madman, met with ridicule and contemptuous ridicule. Of course, I enjoy a good dinner like no one else but I wouldn’t die in a hurry if I wasn’t up to scratch. But food has become so sacred. The last time I had a party I pressured my peers to hire a caterer – although my dazzling company, guests refused to come if I had anything to do with cooking. Nowadays, food has been glamorized with great reverence, even fetish, perhaps because polite conversation does not allow us to express the same interest in sex and drugs. So wild mushrooms (not magic) in cheese sauce have become the new hedonism.
Throughout history, mankind has developed customs and cultures around food. “Tell me what you’re eating and I’ll tell you who you are,” the famous gastronomist Jean Anthelm Brilt-Savarin wrote in 1825 in The Physiology of Tests. As Oscar Wilde observed in The Picture of Dorian Gray in 1891, the value of the highest honor is far less than the possession of a good chef. At the risk of sounding a little self-righteous, more pressing questions are plaguing the world than what will happen for dinner. I can’t help but wonder if we shouldn’t be more concerned with what we remember than what we put in our stomachs? Insulted by the painful epicures of unpleasantly droning about ingredients and tastes, I took quotes from the Bible to protect myself from the original sin: “The muzzle will be useless; and drowsiness will clothe a man with rags.” Eat my word