Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Can Food Change The World?

Maybe this question is in fact the most important of questions, maybe it's not, but it's definitely an interesting one.  Especially for a former fat kid, especially for a New Yorker living in Los Angeles, and especially because if a meal can change my babymamma from the Antichrist to the sweetest human alive there's certainly a correlation between change and food.

Let's look at the most pressing and obvious way food can change the world and just get it out of the way. Child Hunger: if we feed the hungry, we change the world. As a new father, the thought of my boy going hungry makes me want to rip my arm off and feed him with it. But he's only just now starting solids.

Now that I got that out of the way, let's get to the fun part. Both God and Dave Matthews say the same thing, "Eat, drink and be merry." I couldn't agree more. Perhaps a sandwich is the perfect metaphor; it brings things together that wouldn't necessarily come together naturally and makes them one.

Food is an excuse to enjoy life with others.  We sit with each other and share three moments a day over food and drink (5-7 if you're in LA and 1 if you're lucky in NY). If you're not in New York or Los Angeles it's also usually when you put your phone down and the concept of interpersonal communication becomes a reality again. By virtue of needing both your hands to eat, we become people again three times a day, and it's nice to be people again. We're so into this togetherness that despite knowing better, Thanksgiving, the tragic foreshadowing of murder and genocide is celebrated nationwide with a cozily gluttonous family gathering.

I don't remember a lot of the difficulties of growing up. Sure I was fat, cross-eyed and liked Boy George and the Monkeys when kids were listening to Guns N' Roses and Warrant. Sure my mom cut my hair as if she had two left hands of all thumbs and sure, I had to wear a shirt when I went in a pool so the hottest girl in junior high wouldn't see that I had bigger breasts than she did. I really don't remember all that. I remember snack tables at family parties. I remember going with my father to get Buffalo wings with chunky bleu cheese dressing. I remember the smell of BBQ's in the summer and hot chocolates in the winter. Most of all I remember my best friends, Pop Tarts. I remember these things because I related to them. The phrase comfort food exists for a reason. As Americans these touchstones or "Food Nostalgia" is inescapable, and we pass it on.

I have a five month old son.  His name is Philip, we call him Flip for short.  He's just now getting into eating people food, fruit mostly (no arms). I can't wait to introduce him to the food that I love, and the food that he'll love on his own.  I love him, endlessly. The same goes for his mother. I spend at least an hour a day making her food while I drink an ice cold Northern California IPA. That is my zen, my relationship with food, my family and making merry with my meal.  

If food can make a new mom feel loved it probably could have helped out a few troubled dictators at some point.

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