Of Boiled Potatoes

Chris Farmer RSS / 13.06.2009. u 09:07

Nothing, one finds, hones the sense of appreciation of food more than its denial.

Having just undergone a couple of weeks of more or less severe and more or less unappealing stomach flu, I am currently on what is called a Restrictive Diet. This means Boring Food Only.

We have, as a race, an interesting relationship with food. Unless we grow it ourselves, we usually take it on complete trust that someone has grown and made it for us with Good Intentions. We must also take it on complete trust that once we eat it, it is not MEANT to kill us. At least not intentionally. We go to supermarkets and are shown masses of small-print ingredients which very few of us read. We are shown certificates of origin which are subject to almost no control. We are told something is fresh, organic, and healthy whereas we must simply trust that it is what it claims to be.

It is a little like reading a novel or watching a play. It is the willing suspension of disbelief that allows us to buy, cook, and eat what we do. Failing this, we would stop eating altogether. We would question each egg, pat of butter, and each banana. We would ask ourselves profound philosophical questions in the supermarket. Where does this COME from? How will this contribute to my life? Do I need this or I am conditioned so much to want it by marketing that I believe that I need it and that the belief, per se, constitutes its own sui-generis reality.

In the meantime, someone will angrily bump our shopping carts as we have been blocking the aisle in this philosophical trance.

Having established this relationship of unfounded trust, the imagination is allowed to take over. This is the domain of marketing and advertising. The food images we get from advertising all go to satisfaction and comfort. We see images of melting cheese from pizzas. We are shown smiley happy people enjoying themselves at a restaurant not because of the company or conversation, but because of the food they are eating. Food, therefore, equals happiness.

Consider then the unsalted boiled potato.

There it sits on my plate. Inert matter, devoid of taste, designed to settle my stomach and occupy internal space. This is not something to be enjoyed and savored for its own sake. The eating of boring foods is strictly utilitarian. On my highly utilitarian Restrictive Diet, this is what I should eat. But the side effect of boring potatoes, plain rice, clear soup, and their ilk is a rise in Fantasy Eating. I have dreams of pizza, Chinese food, spicy curries, chocolate, and all of the products from the marketing playground which are denied me. Invariably, the images which I have of these foods do not come to me from recalled experience, but rather directly from the television.

We do not want our food to be boring. We need it to entice, to surprise us. We need it to appeal directly to our subconscious. We can even invent monstrosities in our minds of foods which have so much of this appeal that to eat them would necessarily be disappointing - not to mention life-threatening. The seven-layer fudge cake, for example. The Cheeseburger Pizza.

The advertisers are to be congratulated for this complete and utter manipulation of our base needs and instincts. I can say, with certainty, that I have no idea if I WANT to eat the cheeseburger pizza or not.

But it looks a lot tastier than this boring potato.


Komentari (9)

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marta l marta l 12:26 13.06.2009

boring potato

I have no idea if I WANT to eat the cheeseburger pizza or not

you DO. go for it
Chris Farmer Chris Farmer 13:36 13.06.2009

Re: boring potato

et accedens temptator dixit ei si Filius Dei es dic ut lapides isti panes fiant
(Matt 4:3)

I can resist anything except temptation. (Oscar Wilde)

marta l marta l 14:01 13.06.2009

Re: boring potato

Oscar knew even Filius Dei once gaga remember and regret only temptations he resisted….
be wise before being gaga, just in case....
ninasimone ninasimone 18:36 13.06.2009

Re: boring potato

The same way marketers trained us to crave cheesburger pizzas, we are fully capable of retraining ourselves to enjoy a simple boiled potato. Food in its original state contains as much taste as the latest airbrushed fast food concoction (more, if you ask me). It's a girl-next-door beauty vs. silicon-stuffed bleached blond (they don't call the images of gooye melting cheese "food porn" for nothing!). At the end, who do you want to be with for the rest of your life?
jednatanja jednatanja 13:12 13.06.2009

The answer is...educate yourself

Eagerness for profit or simple lack of knowledge or awareness has made many producers "cut corners", and add additives to the food, not normally considered healthy. We have to attempt to find a happy medium, educate ourselves, find locally grown produce, and have some amount of trust, otherwise our mental health may suffer. For example, if you bought your potato from a local farmer, if it didn´t look as big as someone´s head, there is a better chance your potato did not have pesticide residues, and since you cooked your potato rather than made it into french fries, there is less chance that your potato has potentially dangerous acrylamide that is created during frying of potatoes at temperatures higher than 220 degrees C. Prijatno!
Bili Piton Bili Piton 14:47 13.06.2009

Nothing wrong

with a humble boiled potato. You just mash it nicely, add loads of butter, full fat milk and salt, give it a whip or two and voila - perfect comfort food.
mungos92 mungos92 18:13 13.06.2009

Maan, it was a damn...

... devastating flu, since you are keeping the existence on a concentration camp diet....
Praying for your survival!

Mungos, The Fellowsufferer
gorran2 gorran2 04:17 14.06.2009

be careful!

Even our wishes, our food fantasies, even what we consider to be the most individual items of our feelings and thoughts. our deepest fantasies - they are all industrial products, produced somewhere by someone, in order to invade and conquer our minds.
There is no such thing like cheeseburger pizza. It's just a fantasy.
It is intentionally produced malware for minds - not for stomachs.
And it's working. Even when we touch it and eat it, we do not touch nor eat the real thing - which is rubbish - we are still tasting our implanted fantasy.
Real things have no names at all. Nor looks, nor images.

When you have strong urge for some delicacy, test it on your dog first. Dogs can eat various food we usually throw away. But try them with the most expensive specialties of most appreciated chefs - they will probably turn away their noses in disgust.
That's because dogs have no fantasy - just sharp and truthful senses.
akasting akasting 09:15 15.06.2009

a "recovery" menu

1) few pieces of cheese (3 diff kinds, from dry and hard [irish] to soft and moist [french]), few black and green olives, glass of red wine (Cabernet, Merlot), crackers (unsalted) - or bread and vinager/olive oil/basil/garlic dip)
2) toast, butter, little bit of caviar (black), glass of wine (pino, champaign)
3) boiled (or baked) potato, piece of white cheese (goat or sheep), dried/smoked/salted fish (bass, sardines, haring, sole, bluefish, ...), olives, glass of white wine (chardonnay, pino) - or something harder e.g. stolly, onion, vinegar, lemon, homemade (or as close as you can get) bread
4) garden salad (belgrade vicinity - back yard garden - the kind where you can smell tomatoes from a few hundred yards away): letuce, tomato, feta cheese, onions, vinegar/oil, olives, green/red peper, cucumber, "slivovic", prusuto

Then repeat... makes me feel better every time.

Cheeseburger pizza!? You must be joking.

P.S. Forgot to mention - just nibble and sip... dont stuff your face with it. And you'll be fine :)



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