The ambivalence of the post-modern life and the complexity of making choices is crystallised in the multidimensionality of eating practices. Our alimentary habits have been influenced by industrialisation, urbanisation, the position of women, and globalisation. Although the differences between social groups in most of European societies have diminished, the sphere of eating is more fragmented than ever. What turns up on our plate is influnced by our concerns with quality, healthfulness, safety, ethics and politics of food we eat. The field of eating is splintered and full of contradictions. It is possible to explore these contradictions using oppositional pairs like convenience vs. culinarism, health vs. pleasure, ethical vs. egoistic eating, dangerous vs. safe food, natural vs. technological food. The choice of food has become a form of political and moral statement making. „You are what you eat” is slowly becoming „you are what you do not eat”, and what could be called the culinary turn is elevated to the range of major development in Western philosophy of the new millenium. The newest PLOTKI issue is all about FOOD.
So, are you a döner or langos person? Fast food can be seen as a tasty tool of change, like in Brian McCool’s article about döner kebab – a real Turkish delight of German origin, or a conscious demonstration against gentrification of taste like in the case of Hungarian langos. Everyone to His Own Taste, for more spicy details on langos go to Trever Hagen’s text.
In the gourmet section, we offer, à la carte, Maria Iancu’s report on afterlife of Romanian circuses of hunger or, also a Romanian speciality, Florin Poenaru’s opinion on why did Nigella Lawson become the new Lady Di. Poeanru applies a Marxist economic analysis of an increasingly image-dominated culture to explain how the gastro-porn genre works. Yes, we know that celebrity chefs are overwhelmingly media products, implying an arbitrary relationship between food and celebrity, and that the real product of food media is not the celebrity chef, but the consumer. Food media creates a base of consumers whose appetites are literally and figuratively kept wanting; this is the new business of food. Some people, like our Polish authors Maciej Moszczyński and Karol Słowik, or Abel Polese (himself!) would even travel the world in search for more exotic (?) or more innocent (?) culinary experiences.
Abel’s report from Georgia exemplifies how food often figures in travel writing as an index of cultural difference. Whether this produces a contrast between the dull and the exciting or the safe and the dangerous, the distinction between the ordinary and the exotic tends to overshadow all others. To get your own opinion about it, check the “Taboo cuisine” project in our gallery section.
Is there any chance to have a PC meal in Europe? Certainly yes – go to our organic product stand: Agnes Gagyi food network activist (Szatyor, Budapest) and researcher (RIRNM, Cluj) discusses the future of small agricultural businesses in Romania and Hungary in her article „Can’t we eat our own?”.
If you still have problems with deciding: organic, hot or not – Ania Rok and Grzegorz Łapanowski will explain everything you need to know about playing fair on the food market. Talking about the market – our current gallery pictures document last year’s activities of Hungarian civil movement „We treasure our market“. A progression for humanity might be to have the butchers shop and gallery as one. Perhaps it would put some of us off meat, but those that stayed carnivorous would be a hell of a lot better informed – told us David Wilkinson, Budapest based British artist and sausage manufacturer, whose work you can see in “Form Follows Function In Sausage as in Art” gallery.
If you are biting something while reading, please stop. Food is too important to be a secondary task. Read first, this issue will certainly stimulate your gastric juices and thus your appetite; at that point you can go for a real meal. Look at your plate and feel how many years of experience were needed to prepare that meal, close your eyes and try to feel all the tastes of your food, you might try to spell out all the spices that have been used, or to associate every sensation to a nice memory. To wash it down, choose an appropriate drink that instead of killing, emphasizes the taste, wine might be a suggestion but the only limit is our fantasy.
Enjoy your meal…ops, sorry! Enjoy your reading…
Katarzyna and Abel