Saturday, March 24, 2012

Good Food

I was going to write about my brussle sprouts and pasta but there isn't much to say about it. I made it. It was good.

I read on a list serve for HAES (health at every size). It's a mix of eating disorder therpists, fat activists and friends of. There is often disscussion about pathologizing food and/or eating. I can never figure out how to express where I stand on it all since I come from a foodie perspective. Actually I come from a former dieter perspective and the perspective of my family and an ageing hippie perspective. There are so many things that shape our perspective on food and eating.
I have strong feelings about good food. Good is about craft in the preperation and quality in the ingrediant and something ephemeral and hard to describe. Things can be good in context. I don't usually like doughy white bread but the doughy white bread used for lobster rolls is perfect. The doughy white bread on pork buns is perfect. Doughy white bread is good food in the right time and place.
Lanquage, food and meaning making are three of my favorite things. Good food. What does that mean?
I was not born a foodie. In fact I have a fairly limited palette by foodie standards. I became a foodie because I needed a job. My earliest jobs in food were washing dishes. The silver spoons in my life were covered with other people's saliva. The people I've met in the food industry were my mentors in food. Some of them were chefs and some of them were dishwashers. I remember a prep cook giving me a cob of corn with a wedge of lime covered in chili powder. You rub the corn with the lime and chili powder. It's ridiculously good. Being a foodie is about learning from other cultures.
There's no doubt that the idea of being a foodie is pomo and manufactured. From a media perspective it is the indulgence of  the mostly young and mostly white. But for me it's a process of discovery informed by livelihood.   The intersection of my foodie life and my fat life is always wobbly. I know many people don't really care about food, or enjoy food that repels me. I don't feel superior. But good is a word that describes a notion of superior.  For me a hamburger made fresh with good quality meat is superior to one made with pink slime. It's superior in terms of health and taste and pretty much every thing. But there's nothing superior about being a person who thinks that way.
Once I took some women to a place near me where they make amazing hamburgers. They grind the beef daily and use a good cut of local beef. They grill the burgers and serve them on wonderful crunchy buns with romaine, tomatoes and red onion. They make a sauce with mayo and mustard. The fries are cut from potatoes, also fresh daily. The shakes are ice cream and milk. They enjoyed the meal but when I said something about not being able to eat fast food burgers after tasting the ones we were eating they gave me a look and I knew I was wrong. For them.
Fat people are always being told that their food choices are wrong and bad. It's not a useful way to think. I know there is more than one reason to enjoy a particular food. When I was a kid we had chipped ham on doughy white bread buns. I crave them.
I get angry when I read ideas about foodies as class specific and uppity. It's not my experience. It is true that I always want to cook good food for people. Cooking and sharing a meal is one of my great pleasures. I do have strong opinions about what good food means. But, like it so often is, meaning is a shape shifter. Good is what you want it to be.