introducing the language of eats
October 8, 2010 § Leave a comment
Origins and upbringings aside: everyone loves food. Whether you’re tall, diminutive, young, old, asthmatic, or myopically blind, chances are if you’re human, you like to eat.
And it’s this utterly basic, shared instinct that has the potential, I believe, to bring together even the most dissident of cultural differences. So for all the reasons why I love studying language because it allows me to directly and (almost) instantly connect with others through conversation, really, there’s a more fundamental linking of minds in the wordless exchange of food. In the simple act of sharing a meal or cup of tea, the complexities of grammar and frustrations of forgotten vocabulary have little significance when it comes to the mutual enjoyment of delicious food. Because no matter how intricately I string together words from my memorized lexicon of vocabulary, the only really important thing is that I continue to consume a steady supply of aromatic foodstuffs. Which makes food, in many ways, a far more immediate means of connection than the mere abstractions of language. And it’s also highly motivating, which is the best kind of incentive one could ask for when struggling through the laborious toils of language-learning.
And just like a language is constantly evolving and adjusting to the constant influx of new ideas, food culture is also adapting to new tastes. So while trying out a new language is slightly more complicated than trying a mouthful of sushi, eating the food of another country is a way to participate in that other culture, to appreciate the differences and customs and habits by consuming as they consume and fueling the mind and body as they fuel the mind and body.
Which is why I’ve decided to introduce a most wonderful and nourishing theme to this week of postings: the worlds of food, language and culture and their tasty intersection…