Daily Archives: May 20, 2017

Foodism and the problem with home-cooked meals

I was prepared to argue with this article in Vox from some time ago: The problem with home-cooked meals , because I am a big proponent of such meals.  However, the closer I read it, I think the main issue I have with it is the title. If it was titled “The difficulties in preparing home-cooked meals”, I would have been more receptive. Read the article. If you are a foodist like myself, it might seem hard to understand at first that people have difficulties with home-cooked meals, but like many things, the difficulties arise from lack of time, knowledge, and resources (money but also access to good food, even if you have money).

I believe that there are a number of ways to address those difficulties. First, I think city governments need to treat access to food the same way they treat access to other things such as transportation, water, parks and even sunlight. If housing doesn’t have access to water or electricity or transportation, then developers shouldn’t be allowed to build it and people should not be expected to move there. Access to good food should be part of that set of restrictions.

Second, we need to better educate people on how to prepare food.  Too much of our education system is spent on academic topics. Kids should be taught a wide range of subjects, and one of those should be how to prepare food no matter how much time or a budget you have. (They should also be taught how to manage finances, how to do basic home repairs, and how to deal with personal difficulties, among other topics.) There is a wealth of information available on food preparation, but often to me it seems aimed at foodists and is aspirational. There’s nothing wrong with aspiring to make good food. In addition, though, people should learn how to make straightforward nutritious food, with anything from 2 ingredients on up, with or without a recipe, in 2 minutes or over 2 days.

Third, we need to change our emphasis on a form of eating. There is a belief that some North Americans have that home cooked meals should be prepared and eaten a certain way. Often this certain way involves 30 minutes to an hour of food preparation followed by an equal amount of time eating it. Culturally that may have been the way it was done, but there is nothing that says we must continue to eat that way. You should be able to prepare and eat good meals with the resources you have.  If that means a 5 minute preparation and a 5 minute stand up meal, so be it. Better that than 30 minutes spent eating over processed food in a chain restaurant.

Finally, we need a more expansive and less snobby approach to what constitutes good food. If you are a foodist and you want to cook with homemade stock, fresh herbs, wine and hard to source ingredients, and that works for you, that’s great. For most people, if you have limited access to good food, then you can still make good meals with what you have available, and there is no shame in that.  Besides, the social status of ingredients come and go: eat the best you can with what you have, be that a roasted chicken and a salad or a bowl of chunky vegetable soup.

For many people, food is a means to an end: I’m hungry, I eat food, I’m no longer hungry. For others, their life revolves around food. Wherever you fall on that spectrum, having an open mind about how others eat and being open to alternative ways to dealing with food will benefit everyone, including yourself.

(Image is of a ham, painted by Manet.)

P.S. In case you don’t think it is a word, here is the definition of definition of foodism, from the Oxford English Dictionary:  “A keen or exaggerated interest in food, especially in the minute details of the preparation, presentation, and consumption of food.” Therefore people who have foodism are foodists.

 

 

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Thoughts on the legend that is Jean-Michel Basquiat

Basquiat in a suit

The big art news this week was a record sale for one of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s paintings.  Right after reading about that, I saw this tweet by Will Black: “Painting by street artist Basquiat, who lived in a cardboard box, sells for $110.5m in New York. Value PEOPLE while they are ALIVE”.

A few thoughts on that tweet. First, while Basquiat may have been poor starting out, by the time he died too young at the age of 27, he had a net worth of $10 million dollars. Second, that transition from poverty and obscurity to wealth and fame was fast. We should value people while they are alive, but there are better people to use as an example than Jean-Michel Basquiat.

As for my own thoughts, I have always loved Basquiat’s paintings since the 80s. Their greatness was there from the beginning. If we knew nothing else about the artist than his work, we would still think he was great.

But Basquiat was not just a painter: he was more like a rock star. Like Keith Haring, he had a public persona more akin to music superstars much in the same way that Andy Warhol did. It’s no surprise that Basquiat was influenced by Warhol in more ways than one. And now, at least in the world of the art market, he has surpassed Warhol.  It’s good to see that too. For many reasons.

Jean-Michel Basquiat had something else that was great, and that was his sense of style. There’s a good piece in Dazed on the importance of clothing to him. They correctly note that:

Jean-Michel Basquiat was a fashionable man. He walked the Comme des Garçons runway for their SS87 collection and favoured the long, slim cut, slightly militaristic jackets of Issey Miyake. Biographers and friends recall the stories of Basquiat setting up tabs at his favorite clothing boutiques, trading canvasses for clothes.

Jean-Michel Basquiat was a legend for his time, and a star. It’s good to see that star is getting brighter.

For more on his fashion, see: The meaning and magic of Basquiat’s clothes | Dazed. It’s a strong piece.