How often do you wonder where your food comes from? Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a piece on GMOs, or even health at all. No, friends, this is a piece on the character of your cuisine. This is about the stories we eat everyday without reading.
Throughout the course of the 20th century humans have industrialized, commercialized, migrated and globalized both our economy, as well as our eats. And as our cultures have intermingled and our trade routes turned into chain restaurants and Amazon boxes, the foodstuffs that we grew up with have become a source of identity and pride. Whether that be from your far-away native land, or a few blocks down the street.
Either way, the chances are, nobody makes it like your grandmother.
When you’re out there in the world, and something you find tastes like home, there’s simply nothing else like it. The intermingling of cultures means that our chances of running into familiar fare are greater these days than ever before. This also means that we have the opportunity to try and share so much more between cultures. And with delivery services you don’t even have to leave the park (or Netflix if we’re being very, very honest.)
The evolution of food items are also fascinating to follow in some cases. The ubiquitous Nacho, for instance, was actually invented by Ignacio “El Nacho” Anya for a couple of U.S. soldier-wives when they tried to eat at a mexican border hotel-restaurant which had already closed for the day. Clearly white-girl dining etiquette has undergone little evolution since 1943.
By tricking the intrusive patrons into enjoying a no-preparation plate of chips with cheese tossed on top, they had unknowingly created what would become one of the most beloved snack foods of all time.
The fortune cookie, the blessed poor man’s prophecy, actually originated from a modification of the I Ching called the Ling Qi Xing which featured a form of divination that was outlawed in its region of origin. That’s right, the fortune cookie was an illegal outcast in its own home. But those semi-sweet starchy vaginas of fate became immigrants as well, flourishing in their new land and into American strip malls from sea to shining sea.
There’s always the fanatically documented yet widely misunderstood history of the evolutionary lineages and delineations of pizza, with no end in sight to the hot debate on proper crust depth. And you can bet your best mozzarella that debate is heated by a wood fire. Ask anybody who cares about pizza. They will all tell you something different and exactly why everyone else is an idiot. It’s beautiful. The spirit of pizza is clearly an elitist, purist, blue-collar hero, peerless among the cool-guys of consumables.
And while we’re at it, I have a particular love for the story of the lobster. Yes, that deliciously expensive high-society dish that we now drown in butter but the British once referred to as the “cockroach of the sea.”
When the British inquired of the natives on the coast of Maine what possible function these hideous creatures could possibly have, the natives then kindly instructed the British on how to crush the lobsters into a fluid and fertilize their crops with them.
Lobsters weren’t food.
Until the railroad stretched across the U.S. and changed everyone’s lives forever (especially the lobsters’.) I don’t mean the pillaging and massacres of the “civilizing” west, I mean canned goods!
That’s right, before the settlers out west were, well, settled they needed protein to keep them going. Hunting and farming and murdering the indigenous is hard when you’re living in a tent next to a steam engine running all hours of the day (with hammers swinging), so we did the only American thing: We canned and shipped them sea-roaches fer eat’n reasons!
A few years later affluent gold-prospecting families were taking trips of novelty out East to try the famous lobstrosities fresh from the sea, and the rest, as they say, is industry.
If you find yourself remembering this article the next time you’ve got hand-to-mouth disease, stop. Take a second. Look at what you’re eating, and do a quick search. Both in your soul and maybe also on the internet.
You just might find an occult adventure taking place inside your mouth.