I attended a history of Turkish food event today. I can’t say I learned much about history because I had to leave before the keynote speaker took the stage (darn 7 p.m. classes!) but I did eat Turkish food and I listened to this quote that resonated with me so much that I came home immediately after class and searched and searched for the women who said the quote. Food is culturally transcending and sensual, coaxes our desires, and stimulates our senses:
“People ask me: Why do you write about food, and eating and drinking? Why don’t you write about the struggle for power and security, and about love, the way others do. They ask it accusingly, as if I were somehow gross, unfaithful to the honor of my craft. The easiest answer is to say that, like most humans, I am hungry. But there is more than that. It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it.”
~ M.F. K. Fisher
And so it is that I write about food. Every time I read a novel I mark the parts that describe the food. In class today I read, from Ishi The Last of His Tribe:
“There were many smells in Mother’s house in winter-the bite of smoke, the sharp spice of burning pine and baywood; hot resin; green and drying grass and bark; meat broth; still warm bread; and the different smells from the baskets which sat in a neat circle on the upper house level: dried salmon and deer meat and bulbs and fruit; pelts and rugs and blankets.”
I read this and thought, OK, I understand where you are; I understand that this is your home. What is more representative of home than the intoxicating scent of your favorite homemade meal? Like Fisher said “food and security and love are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others” and so it is that without food, and at that good food created with love, that I cannot think straight.