• New York Times
  • James Beard Awards
  • Webby Awards
  • New York Times
  • James Beard Awards & Webby Awards

Eating: A Fact of Life

Posted by

Jan 20, 2011
The Sporkful

Our friends at Good Magazine's website have re-launched their food page, and as part of the festivities, they asked me to participate in something called "Food for Thinkers: An Online Festival of Food and Writing," and to respond to the question, "What does--or could, or even should--it mean to write about food today?" They have a bunch of interesting and talented folks participating in the conversation, and I was glad to be asked to chime in. Here's my post! /dan

We often hear that America is food-obsessed, and when we do, it's almost always stated as if that's a bad thing. But our obesity epidemic notwithstanding, I think a workaday obsession with food is perfectly understandable, and may even have a basis in evolution. Consider the following:

FACT: Food is necessary to sustain human life.

That's pretty much it. What's so bad about obsessing over something you need to live? I'd actually propose taking it a step further by obsessing not only about food, but also about eating.

We like to say that my podcast The Sporkful isn't for foodies, it's for eaters, because while food is a wonderful thing, we humans eat a lot of different foods. The experience of eating is truly universal, moreso than classic human touchstones such as reproducing, paying taxes, fearing death, and watching The Real Housewives.

What does it mean to obsess about eating as opposed to food? Well it means instead of just focusing on ingredients and recipes, you're thinking about the structural integrity of your sandwich, your strategy at a buffet, and the surface-area-to-volume ratio of your french fries.

How many people actually cook the recipes they see prepared on TV? Not many. But food content continues to grow in popularity, primarily because eating is such a universal experience, and TV allows us to do it vicariously. Of course there's nothing wrong with appealing to gourmands, but I think the people who do that best never lose sight of the basic human pleasure of a good meal. Eat up!

comments powered by Disqus