The importance of being earnestly hungry

Food’s a big deal in our house, but then you probably guessed that from the whole food blog thing. I’m guessing that you’re pretty keen on it too, seeing as you’re here, reading a post about it (if not, what are you doing here? Are you lost?). Recently, likely due to lockdown boredom, I’ve been thinking about where this love came from. My parents are similarly food obsessed. They’re both great cooks, and it’s not uncommon for my family to be talking and salivating over the next meal while we’re eating the one in front of us. And it’s not just my family. Tess’s mum used to be a Chef and has an enviable bookshelf of guardian food supplements and cookbooks to pour over. Could it be a genetic predisposition? Does it even matter? Maybe, and probably not, but what’s perhaps more important is how it shapes our lives and what it makes us feel.

I know some quite normal people who view the intake of food as a necessary function and appear to take no real enjoyment from the process of cooking or even eating. Recently, presumably driven by people in this camp, there’s been a surge in food-alternative products on the market. Brands such as Soylent and Huel both position themselves as ‘food replacements’, offering complete sustenance in neat, branded packets. Instead of bothering with the whole rigmarole of cooking a meal, plating it up, cutting it into pieces and then chewing, you can instead mix up a nutrient-rich drink that does the same thing without any of the fuss. Yeah… Now, I’ve not tried any of these products (nor do I have any intention of doing so – I’m not their target demographic), but for someone who doesn’t care for food I imagine that they represent an attractive package. Think of the hours saved. No cooking, cleaning, chewing or washing up (except for your attractively branded ‘feeding’ vessel). Surely food can’t compete with such a powerful offering?

The one thing that food has over these products is pleasure. From an intellectual perspective, that’s quite a weak argument. Is feeling a little happier really worth the extra investment of time and energy? Reviews of Huel by its advocates describe the taste as ‘something you’ll get used to’ – Hardly a glowing review. I imagine that if I were to swap my steaks, pies, veggies and roasties for a grey paste every meal that I’d be an unpleasant person to be around (more unpleasant Tess might say). With the growing acceptance of Wellness and the importance of mental health to our overall well being, the health benefits of pleasure should not be underestimated. Anything that motivates us and makes us feel happier in the uncertain world we currently inhabit should surely be venerated and preserved.

My initial instinct is to pity anyone who cannot share the love for food that I have, but that’s probably an arrogant position to take – no different than how someone fanatical about football might pity me for being unable to derive joy from the act of kicking an inflated sack back and forth for ninety minutes. Instead, I should probably just be happy that I do get so much happiness from food. Without food I wouldn’t have the allotment, and without that I’d certainly not spend anywhere near as much time outside, or get the pleasure of building things and seeing my handiwork bear (literal) fruit.

Food for thought.

2 thoughts on “The importance of being earnestly hungry”

  1. Do you get the same enjoyment from a simple meal with simple flavours that you do from a complex meal with (you’ve guessed it) complex flavours ?

    Sometimes a perfectly balanced salad with beans, olive oil, salt, red wine vinegar and greens is “better” than a slow-cooked meal with all the complex flavours that can bring.

    • Hi Simon

      Possibly more. I love Mediterranean cooking, and that’s all about taking a few great ingredients and cooking them well. Tess and I were salivating over one of our Tapas cookbooks earlier, so it’s probably safe to say we’ll be posting some simple yet flavour-packed Spanish dishes soon.


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