Sunday, November 7, 2010

commonly uncommon

I had a wonderful conversation – I should rephrase that – I ended up talking a poor fellows ear off this afternoon. While waiting for the wedding reception to begin I had the opportunity to discuss the scope of my research. I take any chance I can get.

Food is such a common object and so much a part of our everyday. Because it is so common drawing it out into the light to be examined gives it a special status. In any social analysis it is possible to miss the embedded environment of the social facts merely by focusing to directly on a single factor. I really want to avoid that from happening in this case. That’s why this conversation was heart-warming.

People are generally interested in food and especially if it is tied to a thinner body image but mostly people are not that interested in trying to think with food. This is a highly abstract endeavour. I’m not sure that people are really interested in thinking about how food might be conveying meaning about the kind of person that they are. I don’t blame them. There are many times when it would be easier to stop thinking so hard about something that I usually paid very little attention to. So when someone is willing to engage with me in batting around semiotic theory or other elements it is a treat.

Sometimes there are tiny cracks and windows into the real life of an object that has existed seamlessly as something  we’ve hardly paid attention to. Sometime we look down at our plate and think why does the idea that some of my food is touching on the plate such a big deal for me? Why am I eating this right now? Or what does feeding cake to your newly minted spouse have to do with love? Why is mac and cheese not a usual banquet menu item? Or how does Trina make those darn chocolate chip cookies so tasty?

So I have a question for you. Have you ever experienced a moment when food has startled you – surprized you – or made you stop to wonder what was going on? If so tell me about it…

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