This morning I’m contemplating Rome’s classical period. Too many people weren’t paying attention when their history instructors warned that “those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it.” Today’s western world runs parallel to the Empire in a lot of ways: sharply divided socioeconomic classes; the ones in the upper layers coming up with new ways to flaunt it at the expense of others; overemphasis on sporting events; and seriously weird combinations of food to appease jaded palates all reflect the waning days of its empire.
If you wanted to flaunt your wealth back then, you might treat your guests to a nice plate of stuffed mice for an appetizer followed by flamingo brain casserole. More modern combinations include smoked ice for whisky based cocktails; the above Pepsi-flavored Cheetos; and the current craze of putting bacon in everything, pancakes and waffles excepted.
Somewhere along the line, overabundance became the norm, bolstered by the rise of processed and pre-made food. Instead of the monotony of hunger, there’s the monotony of having too much, leading to all sorts of crimes against culinary nature. Cro-nuts (croissant dough shaped into donuts and fried); the above mentioned bacon obsession; deep-frying things like beer and butter; really? There are also the creative combinations encouraged by the manufactures of food-like products, such as pseudo-Chinese spareribs glazed with corn syrup laden barbeque sauce laced with a pre-sweetened orange drink powder.
At least the Romans’ flamingo brains and mice were unprocessed.
While I do research for this blog and for the newsletter, I frequently, I come across food-like products that sound as if they were invented by bored eighth-graders, such as the above-mentioned items. Ridiculous combinations coupled with the incessant pounding of the cool factor have lead to very strange culinary combinations, indeed.
Sometimes a cleansing of the palate is needed. Do a media detox, not just turning off the tube or severely limiting it, but with magazines and food websites as well. Make a deliberate choice to eat simply prepared whole foods. And watch your taste buds regain their equalibrium again.