Just eat your food
To eat or not to eat? Answering hard questions about food knowledge.
Food, by definition, has nutritional value to our bodies. It says nothing about the importance of balance, dieting, choosing the right thing and eating for pleasure. So should we stick to the linguistic definition of it? And miss out on all the good stories, like the importance of sawdust and stones, the contribution of food technologies to the societal hierarchy, and the evolution of eating together in our lives?! No way!
The thing about food that we accept is that it is just what it is. Pizza is bread with sauce and toppings appropriate to eat on Friday with friends and every other day as a student. Ramens are cheap food from plastic packets. Pasta is one of the staples for single people OR a restaurant phenomenon. Where rice is white soft grains to bulk up the curries. And while it’s great to see things for what they are, they aren't always the things that we think they are. Neither do they have to be...
Why don't you just eat food?
I ask myself this question all the time. Together with "why won't you shut up about food?" and "what is the limit of knowledge of food?" Three simple questions.
Eating. Food. There probably were times when it seemed like eating would lead nowhere and addiction to eating seemed bad, then someone didn't eat for a while and history remembers them as martyrs to the higher knowledge that food is a source of life. Then we ate our way into the future, we - humans, ate - eat more that fits into us. Today we are proud carriers of extra extra extra layers of fat and clothing of the same size. In the end, we decided that having cheap tasty food is better than having anything else.
Eating is life, you and I know that, so eating more is living more. Right? There are so many foods and it's hard to believe that someone would eat anything but crunchy bits (made in fat, covered in salt) and cakes. The secret to life is to ignore those people, and eat what strikes your fancy. Oh, I think I just got some space for another slice of cake. I’m gonna go live, I might be back when I’m saturated with life.
I’m back. A truly magnificent experience is to feel full. Here is a life hack - get more space by pressing food down with more food. Daa
The second question is “why don't I shut up about food?”. That’s an easy one. I love life. I had my beef with it but then we got back together, talked it out, went through the therapy, and now there is no more beef or pork or chicken or fish between us.
Since I discovered that life and I are going well together without beef I discovered that I need to eat something else. Then I found out shops have a lot more to offer. Who knew?! But it takes time to read all that back-of-the-pack stuff in small letters, unknown words and confusing stories. Truly confusing. And I love stories. I used to listen to them when I was young, and later I read many of them when I spent time in the hospitals. That was the best time. Though I couldn't eat all the stuff I wanted, so not the best time. And living seemed kind of shallow without the sweet, salty, sour, spicy or any foods with flavours and textures. I wasn't allowed to have it. So I didn’t. Instead, I was reading, interrupted only to eat bland mashed potato and mushy cutlets, and something else so grey and unimpressive that I forgot what it was. After that, I would be connected to the tubes and needles with salty water and read more books. Who knew that salty water was food too? Living was pretty good. I probably didn't think about all those crunchy, sticky and salty foods all that much because other things were more important, like not getting needles out and spilling blood all over my books. And since I spent a lot of time alone I developed a talent for talking to myself. Which I later practiced on others. Only much later in life, I realised that I can eat what I want with some consequences. Life tells me many cool things when I'm full and ready to listen. I still love talking about foodstuff because there is a chance that you might learn something and avoid getting needles, bland potatoes and getting arm-size bruises from all that morning blood sampling.
Also here is a secret - crispy, salty and fatty foods are the best. If I didn’t tell you, you wouldn't know. You are welcome!
Lastly, when I think about food and eating I wonder what’s the end of it.
Where does the knowledge end? That's too much.
Where does the food conversation ends? Still a lot.
How to stop talking about food? Not the point.
How do you know that you know enough about food? Em, wow, I don't know. Maybe when you learn everything there is about it and taste all the different foods, and discover all the basic tastes, then look into flavours, aromas, textures and mouthfeels. After that, you can focus on one specific property of food - like colours, and challenge what it means. Then, consider nutrition, health, longer happier living, the joy of discovery, and the culture of sharing. If that’s not enough (or you have done that already), try focusing on a single idea, one simple product, like bread.
Ok, I have to admit bread is too big for this conversation. Somehow every single nation developed its own bread, while some have 100 different kinds. Can you believe that? There are breads that ARE salty and crispy and you can put stuff in between and there you have it - a sandwich.
Ok, so if not bread and you already know everything about it (First, congrats! Second, wow, tell me all about it), then let's focus on something simpler. Maybe beer, or wine, or chocolate, or, or water. Yes, how about water? Why don't we just learn everything there is about water and be done with at least one of the staples? Sounds good, of course, but also - water is a part of beer and winemaking, and those two are enjoyed and made all around the world and have, besides their tasting qualities, extensive cultural, religious, and historical meaning.
What about peas?! Let's start with that! It’s green and sweet and pops in your mouth. It’s always frozen and convenient. It’s a nutritious snack ready in 3 minutes with zero waste.
It’s only not frozen when it is harvested, in 4 to 6 weeks in the summer in a single year when it is ready to be de-podded, cleaned, blanched, frozen, categorised into crates and stored away. Out of 54 weeks, about half of the time is spent preparing rare expensive cleaning and freezing machinery for the month of harvesting. Did you know there are two major types of green peas - garden peas and petit pois? They are varietal, meaning they are two families of the same ancestor. But sometimes they are the same variety separated by size, so you can pretend that you have petit pois when you only have tiny garden peas. Once peas are frozen it is kept in a very large frozen warehouse for the next year or two and packed on demand so you can always have some in your freezer. When you love peas (because it's kind of crunchy, sweet, fresh, packed with vitamin C and best served with fat and salt) you might have recognized that some peas are better than others.
Why is that?
Isn’t it all the same (besides variety)? Did you cook as per instructions?
There are many categories of peas. As a fresh vegetable (bean, legume, seed? Let’s agree it’s a vegetable for now) it is best at its freshest, in fact, it is so important for the peas that all the fields to grow peas are located around the processing facilities to freeze it in the shortest time possible, about 2 and a half hours or less, to preserve all the goodness (crunchiness and sweetness besides other flavours but I’m not talking about the earthy and vegetal flavours for now, neither do I talk about the mealy, grainy, mushy, starchy, floury textures that develop if peas aren’t frozen quick enough). After processing, peas are labelled according to the tenderness, measured with, you guessed it, tenderizer, and packed away. All the good stuff, soft and fresh, goes to the expensive stores (and surprise (!), to ALDI and Lidl as they know how to negotiate). The medium-grade peas go to the other shops and the lowest grade goes to schools and prisons because … (your guess is as good as mine).
Phew... That's pretty much all about that green little grain… I mean vegetable... seed!?
I mean peas. Let’s call it by its name. So the only thing left to cover about peas is their qualities - green and sweet. Done.
It's nutrition - numbers, the boring stuff.
How should it be used? Easy - soups and stews, side dishes to serve along with classic British pub foods, also sauces, dips and spreads. On top of that, ferment it, add it to the drinks, and voilá. We are finished talking about peas. The only things we didn't cover are how to grow it, its contributions to the environment, farmers, economy, flavour combinations and, I don't know, aesthetic pleasure. And that’s it. For the peas.
Next time let’s not talk about carrots.
Honestly, how do I stop talking about any of this or think about the blooming of that one single thing if it’s such a marvelous creation of nature? That we eat, that gives us energy and life, and makes us happy, and is a part of local cuisine, and has been for generations.
I think what I need is to go and eat some crunchy, sweet and salty bits to calm my nerves. The universe is big, but the food universe is like a Marvel Universe on fertilizers and pesticides, herbicides, in the sunny season with plenty of water, without any abnormal temperature changes during the growth stage, processed at the time of its freshness that can be found in your freezer, and enjoyed in just 2 minutes time.
See what I did there?
I need to eat to chill.
Catch you later!
This peas piece was written in March 2021 and re-edited and published for Vocal by yours truly - The Food Guy. If you savoured this and are still hungry, check my profile (tip to support food knowledge).
About the Creator
The Food Guy
I read about food politics like it's a Harry Potter.
Eating my way through culture and cooking up the future.
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