FOOD PROGRAMME – BBC RADIO 4. I’m one of the voices in this week’s programme, first broadcast yesterday. Listen here.
INTERVIEW IN SYMPOSION JOURNAL. Talking about philosophy and food. “The key to enjoying life is therefore to be able to cultivate a deep and keen appreciation of the pleasures of the moment while at the same time allowing them to pass without regret.” Read here.
The idea of philosophizing about food still strikes many as pretentious and absurd, despite a recent growth in the literature. It embarrasses practical, empirical Anglo-Saxons, who would rather leave such musings to our more phenomenological and literary-minded Continental cousins. Nicola Perullo is one such cousin, but now that his Taste as Experiencehas been translated into English, it is perhaps time to reconsider our cultural suspicion of combining intellect and ingestion…
Stockings infused with oranges and tangerines, the lingering gunpowder mist of pulled-crackers; the intense herbiness of sage and rosemary stuffing; the slightly sickly sweet paper scent of a box of chocolates, heady brandy-soaked spiced pudding. We take the nostalgic, warming power of these experiences for granted. But what is it about food that makes it so emotionally potent?
Ben Bramble makes a somewhat speculative suggestion that eating meat might cause us unconscious psychological suffering. What he doesn’t consider, though, is that it might be good that there is something troubling in consuming flesh. This isn’t Disneyland and living authentically, as an adult, requires us to embrace fully the bitter-sweet nature of many of our most profound pleasures.
For as long as we can remember, the British have associated delicious food with depraved indulgence. Anything that tastes good has got to be bad for your body, soul or both. The marketing department of Magnum knew this when it called its 2002 limited edition range the Seven Deadly Sins. Nothing makes a product more enticing than its being naughty, or even better, wicked.
Most of us can honestly say we have no desire to be on the cover of Hello! magazine, yet almost all of us crave recognition, believing that it validates our endeavours. A myth of our age is that talent, dedication and ambition bring such recognition – and its associated rewards – in gastronomy as in everything else. Tiziano Gérard is living proof that this just isn’t true
There is nothing new in “playing God”, it’s just that we’re getting better at it.
Genuinely free markets are not the enemies of a sound food economy. The problem is with under-regulated markets. To some ‘regulated market’ is an oxymoron, but this is a historical and factual mistake. Free does mean unfettered but free from distortion by manipulation or misinformation. That is why Adam Smith, for example, favoured breaking up monopolies and cartels. Markets need to be regulated in order to be free, fair and sustainable.
Whenever western meat-eaters get up in arms over barbarous foreigners eating cute animals, it’s easy to throw around accusations of gross hypocrisy. Easy, because such accusations are often true. But responses to the dog meat festival in Yulin, China, which draws to a close today, merit more careful consideration. The double standards at play here are numerous, complicated, and not always obvious…