Food romance

The rediscovery of food, as good food, as delicious goal in and of itself, as a link to doing good, fuelled organic, local and gourmet niche markets. In her excellent book Hungry City, Carolyn Steel investigates the relationship of us, urbanites, with our food. Is this a sign of reconnection?

For foodies – like me – there are ‘festival marketplaces’ where their romance with food can reach exhilarating heights in the face of so much authentic and artisanal products. One can marvel over the latest authentic chocolate, over that particular healthy seaweed and over this special free range chicken from France. The success of these type of markets – based on food tourism – suggests that we have not lost appetite for food, yet ordinary street markets are having a hard time.

“This seeming paradox”, argues Carolyn, ” is explained by the fact that food is not embedded in our culture. We only lavish time and money on it when we are ‘treating ourselves’ not as part of daily routine.”

She concludes therefore, that these festival food markets are in fact “a manifestation of our overwhelming disconnection with food”. In similar fashion Dan Barber is critical about our real connection to food in this TED talk where he gives a hilarious account of the romances he had with two fish. As he shows, restoring the regenerative capacity of our ecology is the only real connection to quality food.