“A philosopher is a person who doesn’t care which side his bread is buttered on; he knows he eats both sides anyway.” -Anonymous
From beautiful pastries to a hot cup of comforting chocolate milk, from baked pastas to exotic pizzas, everything that makes up your definition of food is in a way definition of yourself. In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “ there is no love sincerer than the love of food”
Sitting down to dinner or strolling through the supermarket have you ever wondered, the bread you feast on, the cheese you delight in is a reflection of yourself. Philosophy of food finds its basis on the idea that food is a mirror. You may have heard about the saying ‘we are what we eat.’ Well, there is more to say regarding this relation. Eating mirrors the making of a self, that is, the aggregate of decisions and circumstances that bring us to eat the way we do. In them, we can see a detailed and comprehensive image of ourselves. Philosophy of food reflects on the ethical, political, social, artistic, identity-defining aspects of food. Philosophers have a long but scattered history of analyzing food. Plato , Marx, Rousseau, Nietzche wrote on philosophy of food. In the twentieth century, philosophers considered such issues as vegetarianism, agricultural ethics, food rights, biotechnology, and gustatory aesthetics.
Food and drink figure into our everyday lives in countless ways. A diet expresses ethnic, religious, and class identification; it prescribes gender roles; it is embodied in rituals and manners; and it relates directly to our aspirations to perfect ourselves. Food and drink tap our pleasures and anxieties, memories and desires, and pride in or alienation from our heritage. This connection between diet and identity raises a number of philosophical questions. Nothing we eat (short of poison) determines an identity. And yet dietary preferences are indeed a part of who I am individually, and who we are collectively.
“The way you cut your meat reflects your way of life”- Confucius
Food can also be described as art! Food has aesthetic properties that are similar enough to works of visual arts and plastic arts to be considered artworks themselves. Food can reasonable be described as beautiful, delicate, imaginative, refined, elegant, well-crafted, playful, original and other properties that artworks share.
Food can be as moving and profound as artworks. It can evoke strong feelings of memory, nostalgia, awe, disgust, and wonder. If food can elicit the same emotional response as artworks then it should be considered as art.
Culinary arts involve high levels of skill, technique, and creativity — not to mention perseverance, endurance, and concentration — all of which requires years of practice to perfect. Culinary arts are, in this respect, similar to the fine arts.
The average person enters at least a few ‘food relations’ per day, a refusal to ponder eating habits in a meaningful manner can be likened to a lack of self-understanding or lacking authenticity. Since self-understanding and authenticity are among the chief aims of philosophical inquiry, then food becomes a true key to philosophical insight.
Keep eating , thinking and discovering!