Books Magazine

Resolution to Read in August: Food and Drink

By Realizingresonance @RealizResonance


For August, the philosophical theme for Realizing Resonance is Food and Drink. It will be a nice break from politics, economics, and history, although I will still find a way to weave these themes in, while keeping Food and Drink central this month. My wife Mary is an amazing cook, so my coverage of this topic is long overdue. Mary attended the first graduating class of Le Cordon Blue Seattle in Tukwila, and just recently she began cooking at a restaurant called The Scotch and Vine in Des Moines, WA. I am excited to report that Mary will contribute some of her own philosophical thoughts about Food this month, which will be posted on Realizing Resonance. Also, one of our favorite pastimes together is to discover and drink new wines from around the globe, preferably reds, and I intend to write a bit about wine and other potent potables.

Food is intense, it is central to existence, sustains life, supplies energy and matter to the material body, and as far as I know my continued consciousness on Earth depends on food. Eating is so practically essential, it seems almost mundane, woven into our daily routines, such that some of the most interesting philosophical implications seem too obvious to even consider. But the next time you eat, for just a moment, think about what it means to be required to ingest your own future bodies in order to maintain a material and temporal existence in the physical world. The dependency on metabolism for animation, the varied experience of taste and texture, feelings of hunger, satiation, sensations of digestion, and bodily growth, are all commonplace human concerns, but consider that these embodied realities have profound implications for what life is. A magnificently deep question.

For me, truly contemplating this reality, which is often taken for granted, taken as just the way it is, triggers a recognition that I am fundamentally a fluid form, a process of transformation, a dissipative structure, a complex internal system organized by automated algorithms for living organic maintenance. Yet from this fundamental aspect, I emerge, I become an animated, aspirated, self-aware entity that has the free will to determine what sorts of constituent substances I will subject to my automated internal organization within a limited set of potential choices governed by primal instincts, habituated vice, environmental constraints, but also conscious consideration. This sets up an amazing feedback between the self-aware, conscious, thinking, free will entity that I take as my essential being, and the fundamental fact that I am embodied and depend on nutrition to exist this way, in a loop that I can somehow give meaning to by deciding between steak or chicken, asparagus or green beans, wine or water.

So my Resolution to Read for August is…

The book, Cooking, Eating, Thinking, is a collection of essays selected for the purpose of starting the philosophical conversation on food. Eating, the sense of taste, have been horribly neglected topics of consideration by philosophers over the ages. Historically, the visual has taken first place, with the auditory a close second, in the philosophical ranking of important human senses, with the focus being on how we experience the higher realms of reality, like knowledge, rationality, ethics, and the divine. The sense of touch, smell, and taste were always thought to be lowly and base, carnal features of reality related to the animalistic aspects of human nature. These senses did not distinguish man from beast, and so they were not as special to human consciousness as sight and hearing were thought to be, and were even thought to interfere with higher contemplation through carnal bodily distraction. Although philosophers, such as David Hume, have talked about taste in the context of aesthetics, it was merely a metaphor for the visual appreciation of a painting, or the sonic admiration of a symphony. Since my wife cooks me the best food, like last week when she sautéed me a tender Filet Mignon with a silky sweet balsamic reduction, this philosopher wants to help remedy the lack of a Philosophy of Food and Drink. I expect my Resolution to Read this month to give me lots of great ideas.

Happy Readings!

Jared Roy Endicott

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog