Food bonds us together on many levels. It is part of the “family unit”. Eating as a family is instinctual, for most, and missed by those who eat solo.
Restaurants and bars are social arenas that bring people together to eat. Our daily lives are private and not on display for all to see. We live in small family units, in homes that are partitioned from others. But when it comes to eating, we are more than happy to eat in large groups and share in the experience. This is another example of how food links us together and is an intricate part of what makes us human.
We are empathetic to people who suffer starvation, and malnutrition, because everybody understands what it is like to be hungry, even though briefly for many. We go to great lengths to help our fellow beings in times of famine and create major world events (Live 8) just to put a small meal on the plate of a starving child.
The birth of a child is celebrated with food, the marriage of our children is accompanied with a great feast and the deaths of our loved ones are remembered with toasts and conversations over food. In many cultures, we provide the dead with food for their journey.
Food is also part of the mating ritual of humans. We go to bars and drink to meet people, we take our dates our for dinner which is often considered to be an important step in development of a meaningful relationship. We get married, enjoy a feast and then mate.
Religion also has a significant relationship with food. Christianity uses bread and wine to represent the body of their God. Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism all have strict dictates on what can and can’t be eaten. Fasting during religious holidays can be a form of religious penance, or fasting for long periods during meditation can bring a person to a higher state of consciousness. Some people take eating as a necessary task and simply consider it fuel, though it should be viewed in much higher regard.
Some people obsess about food in a positive way, like a career chef/bartender, but others have negative experiences with food through eating disorders and allergies. The interesting thing is that most of this can be explained.
For this course, I’ve opted to use drinks and cocktails to demonstrate the concepts of flavour, the reason why is because drinks incorporate all of the taste elements, but tend to be more straightforward than prepared food. For example, a Margarita has sweet, sour, salty and bitter elements as well as texture and temperature considerations.