Thursday, October 9, 2008

Food for thought

Every culture has something or the other in common which bring people together, under one roof. We may have our differences but there is this one act which makes people crowd together. Every function in the house-hold is followed by this and without this humans cannot survive. Whenever we go visiting, we have to follow the customary act of drinking and eating what we are offered.

A wedding can be spoiled with bad food, relations can be made or broken with food, a husband can impress his wife and vice-versa with good food. This need for food is ever so strong that we cannot go against it. But do religions attach importance to food? In Christianity for instance the verse ‘Human does not live by bread (food) alone’ is very much a part of the understanding of the essence of life. Yet, on the other hand, food has this great quality of bringing together and bonding people.

Should we then critique food in Matrix-ian terms? In the movie everything that is worldy is an illusion. So, is food also an illusion? Something which is there but not there? The media is also totally into the commerce of food with lifestyle and cooking shows and reality competitions. Is food to be used to engage hunger, is food a statement, or is it part of a status symbol?

The people of Kerala won’t forget Rappai so easily. He is dead but anyone who has seen him devouring 700 idlis or 10 Kg of Halwa (a sweet dish) in a single sitting will never be able to wipe out the image from their minds ( & Rappai loved to eat and he would eat in competitions and in hotels, sometimes egged on by the public. But then he had to control his diet because of diabetis and he died at the age of 63.

So on one side, we have those who love food and a culture that does everything with food. On the other side we have religion's that tell us food is not everything in life. Coming to think of it, we try to build the future with something that goes stale in a few days!!


Vin said...

fr, i dont know what the religions say because some human only interpreted n documented the holy books...obviously Jesus never meant that..
coming back to food.. illusion or not, when there's a plate of gajar halwa right in front of me, i better eat it while i can, this much i know :):)

Fr Jerry said...

My aim was to point out the contradiction that food is on the one hand an important part of our culture and on the other hand it's not everything.

I guess I should go a bit further and say that food becomes a cultural statement of love and warmth. Food becomes rich in symbolism when we offer it to others. So, it's not about us eating but the great significance of food as a sign of hospitality and sharing.