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"Tell me what you eat..."

"Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are." - Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Food. Eating. Drinking. What images are conjured up in the modern mind when thinking of these words?

While recognizing that Brillat-Savarin is lauded by many foodies, my exposure to his work is relatively new. Coming across one of his more well-known quotes "tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are..." while researching quotes around food and drink I was surprised at my own reaction to the statement. My initial image arising out of this statement was "ahh, you are what you eat." How one feels and behaves often coincides with what one eats. For example, how often do we hear "too much sugar makes one hyper" or "too much caffeine will keep you up all night" (curious how much of our culture - I speak for the moment of North American culture, in particular - focuses on excesses of food. But that's for another blog post).

Is that what Brillat-Savarin had in mind with this statement (i.e. my own narrow definintion)? I think not. After all, I am interpreting the statement based on my 2013, North American worldview.

Keep in mind that The Physiology of Taste (La Physiologie du Goût) was published in 1825 in France. On further reflection I quickly realized that the quote was compelling to me on a much deeper level than the simplistic one above. Food and drink, not only affects every being on earth, in the past, the present, indeed into the future, but it also affects every other element of life on earth. Our relationship with food is really the crucible by which we can examine much of societal life. Be it economics, be it chemistry, biology, the environment, the culture, the times...I daresay even politics - our food really defines who we are!

The discussion is just beginning...more to come soon.   

 

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