Food is front page news and I think deservingly so, for food is the measure of both wealth and well-being. Man is restrained by the stomachs capacity to eat only so much; on average about 1500 pounds of food per year. Knowing this, and without craving, we should strive to derive as much good and pleasure as possible from the limited adventures of our stomach. On the other hand human craving for money is incessant – for the wallet is a void that is never filled. Mohamed Ali, when told he should not fight any longer because he certainly had enough money responded “Show me a man who thinks he has enough money.” So for what good shall we derive from food? Let’s begin with food for thought and food for the soul and how we celebrate food.
Meals are the food for the body;
Knowledge is the food for the mind;
Meditation is the food for the spirit;
Music is the food for the love of heart;
Dreams are the food for the consciousness;
Prayer is the food for the Almighty;
Love is the food for the living heart;
Thoughts are the food for the brain;
Colorful ink is the food for the pen;
Ideas are the food for the stories;
Truth is the food for the will;
Sun’s energy is the food for the plants;
Plants are the food for the living beings;
And then one man’s food can be another man’s poison!
-Ramesh T A
Food as a necessary part of our lives also plays an important part in how we celebrate. We use food for a variety of different purposes and the food that we choose to eat is selected because of a variety of different influences. There are both physiological and psychological reasons. If we are happy, we eat; if we are sad, we eat; boredom, depression, and loneliness are other reasons that we eat. We use food for social needs. When we have friends or family over we usually have some form of food to offer them, whether it is a light snack or a full meal. Many of us like certain foods because we have been raised eating those foods. In many cases, whatever our parents eat or like to eat is what we eventually enjoy eating also. The region where we live as well as economics determines much of our food selection. If we lived in China we would eat a lot of rice because it is what is grown there. If we lived in a dairy community, milk products would be a large part of our diet. Our background and our environment play a great role in what and how we eat.
Food is also a part of our many celebrations, and is used and selected for many of the same reasons as mentioned earlier. However, the way that food is used in celebrations varies from home to home, state to state, and country to country. The celebrations that we have and the ways that we celebrate them are affected by our culture, and there are many different cultures around the world. For us to understand why different foods are used in different celebrations we need to understand a little about culture and how it could affect the foods we use. (Fieldhouse, 3)
1. Culture is a learned experience; we learn it from our families and the people around us. It is the same with food. The food that we use for celebrations in our own homes as children are more than likely to become a part of the foods we use to celebrate with as adults.
2. Culture involves change; the foods that we use to celebrate with may change as we change. Our tastes as well as our celebrations may not even be the same.
3. Every culture resists change; even though some of the foods we use may change, many will stay the same because of what we learned as children.
4. We are unconscious of our culture. We may use the foods that we do because it is just so much a part of our lives.
Along with our culture and the other reasons talked about before, the idea that gathering around a table, uniting as friends and family is an important aspect of food and celebrations. When we celebrate it is usually with peoplewe love and trust, or are trying to get to know. Food is a powerful element that can bring together many different people. The smell of food also is powerful in that it is able to bring old memories and events to mind (cinnamon=Christmas, a certain meal and its smell can remind a person of home).
I’d like to share a food event with you- a childhood memory from 1935. We lived on a farm near a highway and railway. I was five years old, one of six children. While we were quite poor, we always had plenty to eat. The train went by twice a day. We kids often counted the number of bums riding atop the boxcars. Some of the Bums, walking the highway, would occasionally appear at our door asking for a handout. Most often my dad would be out in the fields somewhere. Mother was afraid of the bums; but never refused them a meal. One day when two hollow-eyed, starved out looking bums asked for something to eat; mother nervously ushered them to our kitchen table. “All we have is bread and eggs.” She said, and slid an extra cast iron fry pan within her reach for protection – just in case. The bum spokesperson – one without a full set of teeth, nodded approval. As I watched, the two of them ate nearly a full loaf of homemade bread, a dozen fried eggs and demolished a full pot of coffee. When finished, the spokesperson arose, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and pointed to his chin.
“Good, good, good, full way up to here.” He said.