Monday, September 22, 2008

The Special bond !

All of us have a relationship with food - some may know it, some may not. What started as a primeval release of pleasure hormones after a filling meal back in the stone ages - has evolved slowly into something infinitely complex, along with the evolution of the neocortex.

We can best see this relationship come to life when not super-hungry, or as I like to call it - "I could even eat a mouse right now" hungry. When your brain switches to that mode, its really about the primitive brain - the raw animal urge to feed. The hunger in your stomach is releasing all kinds of panic hormones, that in the stone age would have caused mr.stone age/ms. stone age to forage for food harder, or to take a higher risk to hunt something. Eitherways, at this mode - all you'd really care for is food. Whether its a plate of raw rice with sambhar or a gourmet meal, it would pretty much feel the same.

At the other end of the spectrum, when you're "really full" - or as I call it - "just leave me alone, I wanna sleep" full - thats another time you couldnt care less for what you're eating. Your blood is slowly receding from your brain (hence the sleepiness) and your stomach is working overtime, and your brain slowly releases hormones that cause displeasure.

That brings me to my philosophy - if you really want to appreciate food, eat it when you're "kinda hungry" or "kinda full" - but NEVER when you're "really hungry" or "really full". It might sound weird when you first hear this line. But again - I'm talking about "appreciating" food, and not just "eating food". Appreciating food means a full sensual assault. Not just "feeding" !

Here's a quick test.

Whenever you hear the sound of an old familiar song (Rafi et al) on the radio, doesn't your memory suddenly revert to the "good ol' days" and you suddenly start craving for your childhood comfort food to chew on while the song plays ? For me it might be hot dosas (droooool)

Or for those who grew up near a beach - doesn't just the sight of waves crashing, sound of the ocean, or the sense of wet sand seeping through your toes bring about a barrage of memories - one of which would definitely be an extreme craving for "churmuri" or "bhelpuri" on the beach, watching the sunset with someone special !

Smell and taste on the other hand have a more intimate relationship to food, compared the other senses, primarily because they were the first "senses" that developed in the evolutionary chain - that were related to food. Hence we see more of the "food flashbacks" or sudden cravings initiated by the taste or smell of something familiar.

So where am I going with all this?

To prove a point that we all share a "relationship" with food. Just like the other relationships in life, which revolve around all senses - so does food. And just like all relationships, the subtle yet important hues come out when not under extreme stress or extreme relaxation (totally hungry/totally full).

Just like all relationships - the best comes out when in a state of calmness, with all the senses on alert, to take on every inch of the experience, when your primitive brain is no longer in control, but instead, the higher complex parts of the brain (what makes us different from the apes) take control.

Most of the high-society eateries often capitalize on this. Ever notice how the food portions get tinier and tinier as the price and "status" of the food grows ?? But if you notice closer, you'd also see that these tiny foods are always

1) well dressed - visual appeal
2) extremely aromatic - olfactory appeal
3) whirlwind textured (very unusual, uniquely textured) - stimulates the touch sensors on the tongue
4) interestingly flavored - mix of various subtle flavours that can be uniquely identified and enjoyed, or even enjoyed as an entity greater than the sum of its parts.
5) accompanied by mood music - usually soft "plinky plunky" music that creates a whole different aura of pleasantness.

Thats why I keep telling people who want a "high society" dinner. Eat before you go to such restaurants. Eat just enough to stop your "hunger reflex". And then you'll appreciate the subtleties of the thousands you'll pay for !!

Although, having said that - I'll also present the quick antithesis for expensive tiny food.

You dont necessarily need food to be expensive and tiny for a full sensual assault. Just eating hot masala puri or tangy pani puri on the beach, during light drizzle (droooooool)...can have the same effect. But again, its just me.
Everyone has their own "special place" where they have experienced this full sensual assault. It could well be a cool winter night, sitting on the roof of dadi's house, eating piping hot paratha's and butter chicken (drooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooool)...sigh

I'm hungry....I knew i shouldn't have started writing this without food ready on the side.


ps. The author is a poor, unfed waif. Anyone wishing to contribute to the gastronomical well being of the author, please contact the blog administrators.


~ ॐ ~ said...

fantastic start !!!

Gazal said...

and i thought that it had a lot to do with just opening your mouth and eating.


brilliant as usual prax.

--xh-- said...

:) keep it coming...

Nags said...

its nice to see yet another food blog in the making :)

mayuri said...

not just special... it's an essential bond with food we have :)

good post, i think i m already feeling hungry and craving for a midnight cuppa coffee with a choco bar :)

padma said...

hey prax!!!
great one.. simbly... yummmmmmmmmmmmmm ;-))
can i join the group too... imean i cant write but i can eat ;-))


Preeti said...

Yup great yet to put up my post here! :)

Prax said...

thanks guys!

Trupthi said...

yes prax your size explains your love for food & motivation to write this informational article ..;)

Prax said...

thanks gube