Thursday, November 29, 2007

Art of Eating

Just had a sumptuous dinner. Have to say that whatever else I might have eaten, mom's cooking is the best. Anyway, there I was, happily helping myself to generous portions of the different dishes and digging into the food like I was a famine survivor at a banquet. Suddenly I realized that I was just a few seconds away from finishing my last course. Slightly disappointed at having to end it all, I started thinking. Thinking about the Art of Eating.

They say people who cook are artists. I have no doubt about it because, simply put, they are the difference between me eating raw vegetables and me enjoying a delicious pot of kadai sabzi. It might only be vegetables that I eat but these artists mix and match them so very well with each other and with the spices that even the vegetables themselves will want to be part of the dish! Ok that probably is a little exaggerated but I guess you get the point. That being the case, calling them cookers as artists is fully justified. But I wasn't exactly thinking about those artists or about that art. I was thinking about an art form that's complimentary to Cooking. An art form called Eating, which, unfortunately, hasn't got the same recognition because it is perceived as being as destructive in its very nature as cooking is considered creative.

You can't appreciate cooking just by looking at it or feeling it or smelling it or hearing it. You need to taste it. You need people to eat what has been cooked for the cooking to be appreciated. Cooking couldn't have reached the elevated status it enjoys today if not for Eating. Yet eating gets relegated to the by-lanes while cooking enjoys the ticker-tape parade. I was thinking about all of this and decided that it was time I stood up for what I do best <<<--- Gets up from his chair. Then realizes he looks a little stupid standing up in front of his laptop. Sits down and continues to type --->>>

An artist is someone who, by his imagination and skill, produces works of aesthetic value (That is not entirely my own statement. I just paraphrased the meaning of the word 'artist' from one of the websites!). By that definition anyone who has ever eaten anything is an artist because eating involves imagination - you are never sure where the hands-that-made-the-food have been or what that soft, oil dripping, half burnt, dark green thing is, but you imagine all the right answers for these questions and ease the food down your gullet. Anyone who has ever eaten anything is an artist because eating involves skill - different skills in fact. The skill to time your large bite just as the other person asks you a question, the skill to then go ahead and answer that question, at the same time chewing the hell out of that bite you just took, and finally the skill to nonchalantly go back to taking larger bites out of our food, totally ignoring the mildly disgusted look on the other person's face. And these are just some of the skills involved. Finally, anyone who has ever eaten anything is an artist because eating ultimately produces. It produces noises and gases, to mention but a few, the aesthetic value of which might be debatable but then 'aesthetic value' is a highly subjective matter and hence prone to debate.

There you go. Always remember - If you eat, you are an artist. And as an artist, use your imagination and skill to produce art. The next time I find myself at the end of a meal that I am not quite ready to end yet, I will try to prolong the affair by licking my plate clean. Will let you know what happens.



I just tend to eat fast and my students had branded me as an eating machine, would you consider eating fast an art?

NeoAuteur said...

My mom once told me the best cook is the one who makes an ordinary dish extraordinary. I have always found it to be true.

When it comes to food, I can be very picky at times.