Saturday, August 13, 2005

Food (Aliyah)

Sorry that it’s taken so long to update. I’m back home, after spending two days in Bangkok with some friends of friends of my parents. Bangkok was so oddly westernized after Chennai. Had it not been for the Thai script on the signs, I could have been in the center of any city in the U.S.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about food. The philosophy of food, that is, the way we regard what we eat. Too often in the West, the emotional and spiritual content of food is neglected. Many of my vegetables come from places in California where I have never been, picked by underpaid migrant laborers under terrible working conditions. I don’t even know where the wheat in my bread was grown. At school, my food is cooked for me by people I hardly know, and who I doubt have any personal feeling for most of the people for whom they prepare food. The numbers of instant microwaved meals continues to proliferate. I know few people who take much care in their cooking, thinking it to be a waste of time.

I don’t believe that this can fail to have a detrimental effect on our health, physical or mental or emotional. After all, there are few special occasions that do not have a food component. I still remember the time, that, after years of using canned cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving, my parents bought real cranberries. (Note: cranberry sauce is very easy to make, and tastes much better than the store-bought variety.)

So what does this have to do with LAFTI? I have often said, not at all in jest, that at Kuthur the cooks are the most important people. Nothing could ever get done without the endless vats of sambar and rice that emerge, as if by magic, from the little, dark kitchen. This importance is recognized by everyone. The food rarely changes, but it is very nutritious and prepared with much love and care. The ingredients are mostly local, bought from local farmers or even picked of plants in the garden next to the office (where they grow huge bananas and Italian tomatoes). The sambar powder is ground across the street. There is very little fancy equipment and most of the knives will barely cut butter. But there are now spoons!

So I’m back. I’ve been eating David’s fine cooking, along with the occasional piece of pizza (one of the few foods I really missed in India). I sent in an application to the coop house at school, though I am unlikely to get in. Last year, the college sent out a survey on houses and students responded that they didn’t want more coop housing. They don’t want the responsibility or the work. I want that responsibility for my own living and for that of my neighbors. If we can’t take care of our own living, how can we ever take care of our world?

I still don’t like Indian bitter gourd.

Thank you all for being such wonderful readers. Hopefully Tatsu will get to India soon, and post for a bit.

Peace with you,



Anonymous Fan of Bangkok Hotels said...

I got into your blog when researching for what people thinking about Thailand. Your thai food blog is good ides for me. Thank a lots...

2:56 AM, September 24, 2009  

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