This study by the University of Minnesota and Harvard University reveals that when we ritualise food – even in the most bizarre ways – it enhances the food experience.
I rather agree with this, as someone who has both a ritual for almost every food she eats and who loves food more than words can express. And so it has always been.
I pull apart all food into separate components. Then I eat the separate components, on their own. Then I eat them in different combinations. I think this is how I come up with recipes – from trying new flavour combinations.
When I was a kid, Mum would give us peanuts and sultanas in a plastic camping mug. I would eat them as “hamburgers” – one sultana squished between two peanuts.
I had to eat the hair off the “Gollywog” biscuit. After that I wasn’t all that interested in the rest.
I ALWAYS save the best thing on the plate until last.
I eat lemon garnishes. I use a wedge of lemon to scoop up the last of the sauce on a plate.
In fact, I scoop up everything on a plate…usually with my forefinger. Even in fine restaurants. It’s the best bit.
Other best bits include: the parson’s nose on a chook, the fatty marrow on lamb chops, the cruddy bits in a gratin pan, silverbeet stalks at the bottom of the steamer. I guess this, too, is a ritual – asking that these bits be reserved for me. Mum would always oblige.
What is it that makes them enhance the experience more? I think it’s having a “preference”. Knowing what you like. How you like it. Living it out. How often do we really know what we like? This in itself is a joy.
It’s also the engagement. When I eat these ritualised bits, I’m aware of what I’m eating 100 per cent. I’m engaged in my preference. I’m not eating mindlessly. I savour.
I like to watch others’ food rituals. Here in Europe it’s a delight to observe the French break the nib off their baguette, the Italians standing at a bar with an espresso and dunking their croissant in the morning…
What’s your food ritual? Does it make you love that food more?