More Than Just Grub: Food Appreciation
by Emilia Dellemonico


We’ve all seen it before. You’re in a popular restaurant, about to bite into what you know will be a delicious meal from a place that always offers something unique and tasty. The food here has gained itself a solid reputation for its quality, and everyone you know has either tried it or wants to.

But at a nearby table, people unconsciously scoop bite after bite into their mouths, chewing away with the blandest expressions possible. It’s as though they don’t even notice what they’re eating. They may be reading the newspaper or absentmindedly staring off into space, wolfing down their meal quickly in total silence. The experience for them seems to be the most practiced of routines, even when dining at a place specifically meant to catch the attention of their taste buds. It would seem counterintuitive for a person like this to eat at a highly reputable restaurant and not pay attention to their food, but I see this sort of thing happening all of the time. Why do they bother spending money on food they don’t even notice when there are probably plenty of cheaper alternatives? I’m betting many of them go for the cheaper food normally, only spending more than necessary when there are social relations to be enhanced or gained by eating more expensive meals.

To these people, food is simply what stops your stomach from growling, what keeps your body running as it should, and possibly what makes your stomach feel ill later in the day. A fitting example of this opinion is from my favorite animated movie Ratatouille, where Remy’s father says “Food is fuel. You get picky about what you put in the tank, your engine is gonna die. Now shut up and eat your garbage.”

Now, most of us fall somewhere in between the “garbage” eating and the high expectations of a food connoisseur. We don’t especially want to eat low quality food all the time, but will do so from time to time when the craving strikes or when we just want a quick and inexpensive bite out. We are generally most satisfied with a great home cooked meal or the occasional generic restaurant chains abundant throughout most towns. This type of food is often most plentiful and cost efficient, and can serve as comfort food that suits most people in a family or at a party. But to be able to have a truly astonishing food tasting experience, you must reach out and explore outside the realms of comfortable, generic food sources, and search for new, creative dishes specifically designed to stimulate your taste buds in a completely different way.

For people who appreciate higher quality in their meals, going to a good restaurant can be a lot like going to a particularly interesting museum. They simply must try out the most unusual or enticing dish, just as the art lover must go see that fascinating new exhibit in the galleries. Tasting the dish leads to an excited discussion over its overt and subtle qualities, or at least a very well deserved “Mmm!” here or there between bites. The intensity of the food to a perceptive tongue can be overwhelmingly satisfying, leaving you dying to run into the kitchen to compliment the chef repeatedly.

Having a special tasting experience can be very rewarding. More than just in finding yourself satisfyingly stuffed with the most enticing flavors you’ve ever experienced, it also provides a great environment to discuss the food with friends. It can become a fulfilling and shared experience with your romantic partner or buddies outside of normal social scenes, but with very little background in the field of fine dining. You don’t need to be a part of a food critics club or understand any fancy “foodie” lingo to be able to appreciate the dishes with your friends. Just go to a place known for its good food or even for just one specific dish, and talk about it over a beer (or even better, wine). Servers at quality restaurants will also generally be fun to interact and learn from, as the experienced ones will be able to give suggestions on the most outstanding dishes and elaborate on what any foreign items on the menu are.

Appreciating food is truly just another great way to experience new things in life. There is an endless variety of dishes to order and flavors to try. It is something that each and everyone can partake in equally. And in all truthfulness, even the simplest of meals prepared at home can be enjoyed and discussed with others, though there is generally much more to discover from the plates of professional chefs. All it takes is a little focus when you scoop up your food and place it in your mouth. Don’t just ignore the underlying flavors of the food and ingest it without thought, instead, take the time to notice how wonderful food can be, and try to share the experience with friends. Trust me, it can be more fun than you’d ever imagine.