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Local Drummer: My love affair with food


Hands up everybody who loves food. I mean really, really loves food; as in relishes the thought, sight, sound, smell and taste of food.

Anyone who thinks about food even outside of meal times, or fantasises about meals they intend to have. OK — that would be me!

For the past couple of weeks I have been battling one of those horrible winter colds that just seem to linger for longer than necessary.

Of course it doesn’t help if one doesn’t rest, dress warmly and generally take good care of the fabulous machine that the human body is.

Beyond the discomfort of a runny nose, headaches, and generally feeling like I am operating in a cloud of cotton wool, the worst part of a cold for me is the loss of my ability to taste.

Any food lover will testify that it is the sensation of taste that makes life worth living.

Without it, everything you put in your mouth might as well be newsprint, and much as I love the stuff our papers are published on, it’s not on my list of tasty treats!

It has always seemed to me that Shakespeare missed the mark when he said: “If music be the food of love, play on . . .”

Of course I realise that his goal was actually to connect music and love rather than food and love, but I still think the food-love connection is more important.

Food and love are intertwined because they are both basic human needs and they are both rather critical.

According to relationship expert Gary Smalley, what we eat affects every aspect of our lives, from our physical health to our emotions to our ability to love.

In his book, The Amazing Connection between Food and Love, Smalley demonstrates the relationship between healthy living and healthy relationships and the importance of safeguarding our health, not only for ourselves, but also for the good of our marriages and our other relationships.

Thinking about it you can see that even the words we use to describe these needs are the same: hunger, appetite, need, spice, heat, sweet, juicy, crave.

Look at how many dates and special occasions are centred around a romantic meal or drink. Apparently it is possible to captivate the object of your affection by getting him or her to savour some sensual foods and flavours.

In my youth I attended a fair number of kitchen teas and heard my fair share of stories about how the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.

Anyone who doubts the veracity of these claims has only to look at history.

In the Garden of Eden, Eve used food to lure her lover into temptation — and he duly succumbed. In fact, it was only after eating the delightful fruit that the two realised they were naked! The rest, as they say, is history.

Like any other love affair, one’s relationship with food can deteriorate into an abusive one.

Sometimes you can get too much, which is similar to having an obsessive neurotic lover and this results in compulsive eating, which can lead to obesity.

On the other hand you can get too little, a relationship in which one is starved of the essential nutrients, or in the case of love the essential affection, devotion and attention.

This results in kwashiorkor, or where it is voluntary, anorexia.

Sometimes our relationship with food is so complicated and convoluted that it’s like one of those crazy liaisons you read about in the papers where the two people concerned are always in some kind of dramatic fiasco and which invariably ends in tragedy of one sort or another.

Is there anything worse than salivating over a scrumptious-looking meal, only to put it in your mouth and — nothing happens!

Of course this doesn’t only happen when you have a cold; sometimes the food just looks better than it tastes.

Bad cooking is characterised by poor visual presentation as well as low taste rating, but a nice-looking meal that tastes horrid is like a pretty woman who disappoints the minute she opens her mouth; or a nice looking man who turns out to have no personality. What an anticlimax!

In English literature, pears are known to be symbols of fertility.

I learnt this when studying Geoffrey Chaucer at school and somehow it just stuck in mind.

Looking at the advertisements for the Levi brand’s Eva jeans you can somehow see where Chaucer was coming from.

In Greek mythology food plays a key role in romantic relationships and to the Romans, the pomegranate signified marriage.

Brides decked themselves in pomegranate-twig wreaths.

Often as Africans we take our good food for granted. An expat foodie friend who was here during the tough times said: “The food shortages I experienced in Zimbabwe taught me to love ‘real’ food instead of packaged, processed foods. We started growing vegetables and trading with neighbours. I learned to make my own sun-dried tomatoes, grow my own herbs instead of using dried ones, make my own grilled-sweet-potato-fries, as well as my own sugar-free ketchup . . . I really appreciated the flavour of foods as they were intended to be. Now I’m a food snob. I hate, for example, packaged salad dressing . . .”

Isn’t it ironic that it is Zimbabwe that taught a Canadian to be a food snob!

My own love affair with food of any kind is a healthy and strong one. No one could persuade me to turn my affections away from it, and I reckon we’ll be together for a long, long time!

Thembe Sachikonye writes in her personal capacity. Readers’ comments can be sent to localdrummer@newsday.co.zw. Follow Thembe on www.twitter/localdrummer

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