Corona cooking has spun out a colossal new culinary dimension. Eativity. It involves the activity of eating almost all the time while thinking of food simultaneously. With growing food literacy, greater leaning towards hedonic food shopping, binge eating, swelling appetites, unhealthy chomping, dependency on comfort foods, emotional gobbling and self-justification for shopping for ingredients during the cocooned months while the virus prowled out there (it still is) and unstructured days – the fixation with food has towered into a gargantuan inferno that threatens to swallow up Diet Nazis. Clearly, this is not just a health crisis.
Look closely. Food has emerged as the biggest turn-on for a growing number of people. Forget the vitamin cocktails of fruits, veggies, herbs and spices. Or the satisfaction of mocking meats, getting vegan substitutes yada yada. An increasing number of people are now fantasising about food all the time. From ordering laddered-up burgers and making dum pukht biryani at home to prepping ramen and bibimbap bowls in the kitchen to planning getaways exclusively to rustle up a barbeque.
Food cravings are a part of human nature – about 90 percent of us experience them, according to studies, anyway. But food fixation has emerged as a smothering overdose, with food porn ever cruising on telly, thanks to the melee of bigger, better, special offers on junk food by the kilotons; a thousand reruns of Masterchef episodes, cookoffs, foraging journeys and food commandos – both pro and amateur recipe developers – breathing instructions round the clock on social media, milking the palatable kingdom for all that is worth.
Food has increasingly gained the ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) dimension (with ingesting morsels no longer just a survival issue), emerging as the biggest emotional crutch – that silent undemanding spouse, a profound ‘healer’, a mouth and belly filler which emotionally satiates our little hearts on a larger scale.
Planning and enjoying a meal has become a raison d’être for existence itself. “I am for you, and you are for me – it was as if the food was singing to us, especially now,” says Goa- and Mumbai-based psychologist Alaokika Motwane.
Shilpi Madan for Sunday Standard