The culinary arts are more based in a way of thinking more than they are based in a way of eating. Watching Top Chef Canada, you sure can see how much thought has to go into food preparation. Its all about creativity, and then there is taste.
Eating habits have changed culturally, over the last 100 years or so. Eating used to be about communal lifestyle, which was common in colonial times. However, now in this day and age, we value privacy. Today it is all about the individual. Each individual stands on their own.
Now more than ever, we have freedom of choice, which means infinite variety and absolute independence. I think you could actually see that on the Top Chef Canada show that I watched last night as two teams prepared meals in the restaurant at the CN Tower in Toronto. The reason that I say this is because each chef stood on their own, even though it was supposed to be a communal effort.
I think much of our food choices now are created with that very habit in mind. Everything has become about the individual, one plate at a time, everything is individually packaged for one person, each pizza individualized just for one person. Food and the consumption of it, now, has become strictly private.
Each of those chefs had to rely upon their own ability and creativity. The kitchen for the group of contestants was not so much communal thinking, it was actually individual and private thinking that was put together and composed the meal.
Marshal McLuhan (that we talked about the other day), media guru of the 60’s said that, “whenever something ceases to become a necessity it could become an art form.”
We can apply this observation to cooking, because really, no one has to cook anymore, and a lot of people don’t know how! Quite a lot of people spend their time in the prepared food isles. I talked to someone just the other day who never buys vegetables. Just prepackaged ramen noodles.
So, just like Marshal McLuhan suggested, watching these TV shows are us watching cooking as an art form.
I wonder if these TV food competition/ chef competition shows are motivating people to have serious encounters with their kitchen, as well as the creation of a more communal lifestyle around the kitchen table.
I have found that viewing cooking as an art form has given my family a new form of feasting and of celebrating with one another. I find that we as a family are constantly taste testing, much like the judges on the cooking shows, which has helped with a continual improvement of our cooking efforts.
I think it’s very hard to set aside individualism for the communal effort. I think that a lot of children now are brought up with having their own specific individualized meal so that each member of the family is eating a completely different dinner! If you think about fast food eating, this is exactly what happens. Each person orders their choice, different from anyone else, and then sits in the car facing forward, not looking at one another, eating their individualized dinner.
I think that it was easy to see that play out, on the Top Chef Canada show, because each chef created a different individualized dish that was supposed to compose a meal. It wasn’t actually a group effort to decide what was worthy of serving to the judges as a cohesive cooking effort.
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