The Sensual Side of Food

I’ve been thinking a lot about food lately and not my usual thoughts of sugary pastries, but how food is so much more than something just for survival.  Yes, we can’t live without it but there is so much more to it.  Food is a social activity, a definition of culture and economic class, there are rules about what you “should” and “should not” eat, and it can even evoke feelings inside us.  Pretty fascinating when you really think about it.

Heirloom tomato sandwiches.
Enjoying heirloom tomato sandwiches on the balcony.

I believe that food is a way to engage all of the senses—how something looks compared to how something feels in your mouth, how something tastes, what it sounds like when you bite into it.  All food provokes an emotion, be it sparking a memory or reminding you of another food, or bringing a sense of comfort or an unfamiliar feeling.

A prawn from Saison's tasting menu in San Francisco.
A prawn from Saison’s tasting menu in San Francisco.

The experience with food is unique because it is such a passing feeling.  The taste/texture/sensation is gone in mere seconds, giving you only a fraction of a moment to capture what something tastes/feels like.  It’s all the more challenging to describe the experience in your mouth with words.  It’s exciting and rewarding all at once.

A lemon cream tart from Tartine in San Francisco.
A lemon cream tart from Tartine in San Francisco.

Food has a social aspect.  When you see your family, meet up with your friends, go out on dates, often these activities revolve around food.  I think that goes back to our caveman days when humans first gathered around fires to share their food with one another and tell stories.  But it’s also personal.  Everyone has a food they loathe—and a food they love.  Personally, I used to be a picky eater with a list of foods I avoided and now I’m an adventurous food lover (a lot of which I attribute to my experience at wd-50 in New York City) and am always anxious to try new foods that challenge my expectations.

Ramen at the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, Japan.
Ramen at the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, Japan.

Food is so much more than a substance you put in your mouth.  Maybe that’s why I love writing about it and sharing food experiences with friends and family.  If I have to eat to survive, I might as well savor each and every bite, right?

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