This afternoon I finished off the last four chocolates in a tin that we had bought in an after-Christmas sale. As I gave the tin a quick rinse and put it into the giveaway box destined for a local thrift store, I felt vaguely guilty — not for eating chocolates, but for not really tasting them.
Food is a multidimensional thing. It has texture, colour, flavour and scent. If one characteristic overpowers the others, for instance the crunch of a potato chip, it’s easy to focus on the initial snap when you bite into a chip and push all the other sensations off to the side. Binging on a particular snack food could simply be an out-of-control desire to repeat the peak experience of the first bite, over and over with no thought to whether the rest of the food has any redeeming qualities.
I know this firsthand. It is unwise to leave cheezies unattended in my presence because one leads to two, then ten, then a half-empty bag and extremely orange fingers (and smudges of grease on whatever I was reading at the time, which hopefully was not a library book). For me they’re just too dangerous to have around, so nowadays I try not to buy them in the first place.
It would be nice to make eating reflective rather than reflexive. There’s too much of the “eat fast and get on with the day” mentality as it is. There’s too much mediocre food, like that tin of chocolates, or twenty different breakfast cereals that aren’t really all that different, or a tepid burger from a drive-through late at night.
It’s time to take the time to eat better — and actually taste it, too.