Food for thought

Diminishing multiple scoops of ice cream on a lazy afternoon, getting an arm workout from frisking the pasta dough or guzzling shots of ginger- I cannot help but value the sheer gravity that food brings in our lives. Food is everything we are: our livelihood, our upbringing, our existence- it is inseparable from our being. Rightfully so it is said, “there is no sincerer love than the love of food.”

Eid is one definitive season when our bellies are brimming, as we enjoy blessings with our loved ones. From days, perhaps even weeks before Eid, the anticipation of a week-long red meat and sweet indulgence; the warm festive vibe takes over people’s hearts and homes. When the thought of food alone can stir up dopamine levels as such, it makes me further appreciate the role food plays in building up the entire ecosystem: food undoubtedly is the best fuel, but it is hardly limited to the confines of just basic dietary requirements. During younger years, when our bodies generate enough energy to demolish granite fragments, one barely puts any thought into ‘what am I going to eat today?’ Anything that gels well with the taste buds would qualify as a meal. In fact, our palates are quite different when we are young. We all have sweet memories of devouring snicker bars one after the other and being on a mad sugar rush; but as life happens, we all see the light in fruits being nature’s candy. Gradually, as our minds and taste buds evolve, we find ourselves making constructive plans of our day’s meals; we might not always stick to the blueprint- Christmas happens to us all. It is amusing how we often impose changes on our relationship with certain foods as we age and let ‘food fears’ take over us. For instance, one of the fondest recollections of nearly every Bengali is that of immersing in the depths of surreal pleasure, embedded in the sweet nectar of mangoes. When something just feels so right, how can we rule it out of our lives, more so start defaming the fruit itself! We say “food is fuel”, but do we really believe it? Nature has provided us numerous blessings and the edible ones are meant to give a glimpse of heavenly pleasure. Such luxury should be enjoyed with wholeheartedness; only then will the body and mind align to reap the true benefits of food and convert it to necessary fuel. Thus, if it is mango season, please allow yourself to embrace the delight: it is nature giving you a warm cocooning hug saying ‘season’s greetings!’ Getting back to why something as blissful as mangoes gets a bad rep- thanks to the new age substitutes for food packed with preservatives instead of nutrients. Oftentimes we try and find an easy packaged option, rather than opting for the basic hearty treats which sound much less fancy. It all sums up in a simple quote- “If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.”

Now, the patient reader must be wondering that this article kick-started talking about ice cream, surely packaged! Well, everything after all is about balance- one often fails to manage that in life but we can surely implement it in our food regime.

One of the best ways to explore a culture is through its cuisine. Every region has their own delicacies. Putting further thought into it we realise that, not only is the local produce naturally designed to suit our bodies, but we are in turn supporting the economics of the nation. So, every time you refuse to eat a handful of rice, it is worth pondering over how it affects the dynamics of the country on a much larger scale. Nonetheless, food is one of the greatest mediums for globalisation. Be it the backpacker strolling the pavements of an unfamiliar city on the quest for street food, or the jet setter delving into divine dining senses- a holiday without exotic meals is almost a holiday wasted.

“The fastest way to one’s heart is through the stomach” as they say- I could not agree to it more. A troubled intestine can send signals to the brain, just as a troubled brain can send signals to the gut. On hindsight, modern studies have also shown the correlation between food and love. Legitimately so, preparing a meal for a loved one is indeed a significant act of love. I believe it is equitable to say that we should all plunge deeper into our own selves and reconnect with the inner power, love and find their alliance with food.

On that note I would like to share some food for thought: We are what we eat, hence, eating well is a form of self-respect.

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