3/27/09

Wise Women Friday: M.F.K Fisher on American Eating Habits

Words of wisdom from the great food writer M.F.K. Fisher:

In America we eat, collectively, 
with a glum urge for food to fill us.  
We are ignorant of flavours.  
We are as nation, taste-blind.

I have been thinking about food lately, and I blame Open Mouth, Insert Fork and Restless Chef. Earlier this week I worried about feeding them at the Great Bacon Caper Breakfast of Champions.  Just when Pasadena Adjacent had relaxed my nerves, Restless Chef had to go and write about "unworthy dining companions."  I am caretaker to a number of unworthy dining companions.  Don't get me started.  

Suffice to say, many of us do often eat with "a glum urge for food to fill us," and not just physically but also emotionally.  Did you see the LA Times health section last week?  Seventy percent of Americans admit to using food to deal with increased stress caused by these dire economic times.  Personally, I don't need fear of unemployment to get me eating.  Just today, I sat down with a big bowl of cherry chocolate-chip ice cream because I'd reached my limit.  Delicious.  And I swear it made me feel better.

It's natural to associate food with comfort.  Mother's milk and all that.  But why must we be taste-blind?  I think it's fear.  Fear of the new.  Fear of the foreign.  And how sad is that?  

So tomorrow, when you go to the Blogger's picnic -- because of course you must go -- you must promise to try something new.  You must taste with all your senses.  You must proclaim: "Taste-blind No Longer!"  No unworthy dining companions! Ever!


11 comments:

altadenahiker said...

You said it, and you said it with my favorite food writer. And Tash's. (Uh-oh, I'm bringing my pomme frites again. Pretend you've never tried them before.)

WV is clucke. At least I'm not poisoning you with my chicken.

Susan C said...

"Taste blindness" explains why so many are content to eat those bad pies in boxes you wrote about a few weeks ago.

JCK said...

I will taste something new!

Petrea said...

Ah! Boxed pie! Nooooooooooooooooo!

I'm bringing my infamous "Spicy tuna stuff." Not your ordinary tuna stuff. If you thought you were going to taste it blindly, it will surprise you. Have some on your cracker today!

Cafe Observer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cafe Observer said...

I test my taste buds everyday, MF! So, they're always 20/20.

But..,I may not want to subject them to a test this Sat afternoon...

Reluctant Blogger said...

If you cut out processed food completely your taste buds return. I pretty well never eat anything processed and do not allow my children to do so at home. All proper food is good in my opinion and I eat what I want if I am hungry.

Cheese is my fave!!! Well, and wine of course!

Margaret said...

Reluctant Blogger: I think you are right, although I have to say I'm not quite ready to give up my Cheerios.

Palm Axis said...

Cheetos are Satan.

J&D said...



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Star said...

After years of being away, I returned briefly to the U.S. for a conference a few years ago. Having gotten tired of restaurant food, I wanted something light and simple for dinner, say, some fresh fruit and great bread. The little nearby supermarket (the hotel was enormous, but it was in an admittedly depressed part of town) was an eye-opening shock: a small depressing and very costly fresh food area followed by aisle after aisle after aisle after aisle crammed with tasty, but oh-so-bad-for-you stuff covering the whole gamut from savory to sweet and back, again. Now I see one reason why there are so many terribly obese people in the States: what choice is there, when something fresh costs four arms and three legs, while really yummy (but processed and sugared and salted up the wazoo) stuff is reasonably priced? It's an unresistable unstoppable siren's song.