Is food the new sex? Hell no!

2011-09-30 10:10

Last week we had a rather animated discussion about the meaning of food and how important it has become in our lives.

Granted, the conversation took place late in the day, and a combination of caramel vodka and looming deadlines made for a slightly crazy meeting of three foodie minds.

At the end of the conversation, one question popped out: Is food the new sex?

“Go away and write about it” was the instruction to me, and so I found myself spending more time than usual thinking about food and the effect it has on our lives.

For me, people are quite simply divided into two categories: those who eat to live and those who live to eat.

As my waistline will confirm, I fall firmly into the second category.

I adore food, I adore reading about food and finding new taste experiences, but mostly I adore walking into my kitchen after a day at the office and opening the fridge to start that evening’s supper.

It is my happy place where I don’t have to worry about things that went wrong that day, where paying bills and negotiating Joburg’s traffic is but a dim memory.

Food has become so fashionable. The number of rock star chefs out there and our reaction to them confirms this.

Years ago Jamie Oliver started the craze. Now we have names such as Thomas Keller, Gordon Ramsey, Ferran Adrià, Heston Blumenthal and many, many more.

Molecular gastronomy can be executed by ordinary people, as the hugely popular MasterChef Australia demonstrated so ably.

Unfortunately, there is also so much food snobbery out there. People throw about words like sous-vide, bain marie, foie gras and truffles as if they are intimately acquainted with them.

It’s all so much hot air. Food is much more than the experience of cooking and eating it. It shapes our lives and our memories.

Some of my best meals have not included foie gras or truffles, but they certainly had love and respect in bucket loads.

The utterly simple pleasure of a piece of toast dripping with fresh butter and marmalade does not have a price tag.

Nor does a family meal with mum and dad at their home near the beach – a few perfectly grilled pork chops and a salad washed down with good conversation and equally good wine.

One of the best meals I have ever had was in a tent in Maine in the US. We barely had time to pitch the tent before a raging rainstorm flooded the camp ground around us.

But inside we had fresh Maine lobster, coleslaw and a bottle of wine (no glasses).

My husband and I ate with silly grins on our faces, butter dripping on to the floor. There was silence, and pure enjoyment.
Years later I still taste that lobster, but it is inextricably linked to my experience of America as a whole.

Food is not about being fancy and impressing people around you. It is about love and respect for the people you cook for and the ingredients you use.

Look at a child’s face when he or she experiences a new taste sensation for the first time. Pure joy or pure horror, it is an emotion, and that’s what food is all about.

To get back to our original question: Is food the new sex?

Hell no! It is much, much more.

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