I have a new blog entitled Mindful Eating2 : The Way of Aesthetics.
This new blog is a deep dive into the aesthetics of individual dishes and ingredients. I have long thought that food deserves the kind of focused, thoughtful attention we give to painting or music. Yet we lack a vocabulary or the aesthetic concepts that enable us to grasp and articulate the aesthetic values expressed in what we eat. We have music theories and theories of painting and highly developed critical vocabularies for both, but no fully developed theory of gastronomy.
Mindful Eating2 attempts to remedy that.
Although we have a lot of interesting science devoted to understanding flavor, and we have flavor pairing theory or network theory that try to explain what flavors “go together”, we don’t really know what “go together” means and lack an account of the various ways foods “go together” and why. In short, we have no account of the reasons behind judgments of beauty in the domain of food and beverages. “Tastes good” is not an analysis.
And so I’ve launched this new blog with the ultimate aim of developing such a theory.
Mindful eating has become the rage not only among people who seek to lose weight but also among people who simply want to get more enjoyment out of food. Our fast paced, distracted style of eating leads us to overeat but also to miss the subtle complexities of food flavors and textures. I will leave the weight loss programs to others. But Mindful eating is the perfect vehicle for exploring the aesthetics of food. After all, eating mindfully is not unlike the focused attention of art lovers who spend hours gazing intently at a painting or raptly immersed in a symphony. Eating mindfully is essential to grasping food in its full dimension.
Furthermore, as I argue in American Foodie, eating mindfully can help each of us acquire our own sense of taste and resist the blandishments of the food industry’s attempt to push flavorless, homogeneous pabulum on distracted consumers.
I have dubbed this project Mindful Eating2 because my version goes beyond the “live in moment” intuition of conventional mindfulness which often takes a dim view of rational thought. Mindful Eating2 requires an awareness of where food comes from, the historical context in which we consume it, and attention to how we can use this awareness to enhance future experience. It also involves developing the capacity for critical aesthetic judgment which takes us well beyond conventional mindfulness.
My first project is Italian Tomato Sauce. I look at the aesthetic principles behind marinara, sugo di pomodoro, and slow-cooked gravy.