Food as Fun
Growing up in NJ in the 50s, a special event was going to a diner called Holly’s to have a banana split. Although I looked forward to such a treat, I never classified it as “real fun.” I raise this subject because a while ago on the radio, I heard that Pop Tarts are just that—“real fun.” When exactly did food become major excitement in our lives?
Ever since I remember, food has been tasty, yummy, scrumptious and occasionally even deliriously delectable, but when did it morph into an event in and of itself, a happening touted as more wondrous than nearly anything else? Sure, going to Holly’s for a banana split brought me pleasure, but it was one among many I enjoyed as a youth—going to an amusement park, the movies, the circus, ice-skating, bike riding, reading, and swimming in the ocean. Food wasn’t a major topic of conversation except maybe to exclaim how yummy it tasted while we were eating it. I’m not even sure we talked much about food as pleasure—we were too busy smacking our lips.
Nowadays, eating is a sport. We pay big bucks to go somewhere and engage in it. We prepare for it—sometimes by not eating all day—then we dissect what happened post-event. How many of you are sick and tired of talking and hearing about food? I know I am. Worse, I hate how I get caught up in conversations about it when, as a subject for discussion, it is really not all that interesting. Quick, think, what are 10 things you’d rather do than eat, 10 things which you love, which bring you joy, and make you want to scream out, “This, this, is fun!” Okay, if you can’t think of 10, how ‘bout 5?
We all need excitement to stimulate our brains and bodies, activities to lose ourselves in, and on occasion, to act and feel carefree like children. But beware of how easily your life can narrow down to fewer and fewer activities which bring out the kid in you, whip up your passion and help you transcend your mundane, humdrum existence. We used to love to skate, run like the wind, ride horses, coast on our bikes, ski, dance til our feet hurt, sing our hearts out, act crazy, make up stories, get dirty, or dress silly. Too many of us have given up these truly joyful activities and, instead, have settled on food for fun.
Our culture has spurred us on, warning that we’re too old for this activity and too demur for that. It ridicules us for doing many of the cool things we used to enjoy because we’re fat or unskilled or uncoordinated. Or because what we love is too expensive or time-consuming. Dissuading us, culture offers up food as a substitute. A one note, single channel event—eating—that’s what’s left of our good times. I say it’s time to reclaim fun!