If Every Meal Is A Feast, Can Any Meal Be?

Easterbrunch2

On an image search I saw this Simple Easter Brunch. When feast foods are so readily available, are they still feast foods?

The Easter feast, the Christmas dinner, a birthday celebration, a wedding banquet … they seem to have lost their luster over the years. How can a roast chicken or piece of cake be special when it’s there every day? I don’t consider my childhood wanting, but I do remember a time when these foods were eaten only on special occasions (not least of which because my parents weren’t home to prepare them). In the book I’m reading, Impulse Society: America In The Age Of Instant Gratification, Paul Roberts says:

Between 1970 and 1989, real prices for durable goods in the United States tumbled by 26 percent. Food costs as a share of household expenses plummeted. The price of a pound of chicken dropped by half. A McDonald’s cheeseburger cost 40% less. Consumption was becoming so cheap that the very idea of limits began to change.

So, relative cost and, without a doubt, aggressive marketing also play into the ubiquitousness of feast foods. Roberts is on to something when he says our ability to consume, even over-consume, has become so easy it has changed our psyche. There is, now as opposed to when I was young, a deep-seated feeling of expectation, at least concerning food. (Roberts’ book addresses all types of consumption.) Being able to eat whatever we want, whenever we want, has eroded the meaning of feast.

I just saw this article which says essentially the same thing:

In Our Obese Society, Have Easter Treats Lost Their Specialness?

For most of us, the orgy of roast meat, chocolate and hot cross buns, however lovely, comes on top of a daily existence in which these things are never scarce.

Feasts were what gave meaning to an otherwise dull existence. Communities have been held together by the foods they celebrated with, from the beer and bread of Mesopotamia to the wedding meat-banquets of east Africa. [Anthropologist Dr. Kaori O’Connor] quotes the ancient Greek writer Athenaeus, who pointed out that the pleasure of feasts is that they “transcend the usual”. A feast was therefore the one occasion when rich men enjoyed their food less than everyone else. “For since the tables set before tyrants are always heavily laden, they have nothing special to offer on feast days.”

When I look at the diets that sustained people into their 80s, 90s, and beyond, I see austerity. In CNN’s recent expose of Ikaria’s long-living residents, it was revealed that meat was not daily fare. It was usually reserved for a wedding or holiday. And it was shared among such a large group of people that each person had only a small portion. Can you imagine?

8 thoughts on “If Every Meal Is A Feast, Can Any Meal Be?

  1. Anrosh

    What people don’t realize is that what we are eating is not Food, but junk.

    for instance it takes 6-7 months for a chicken to become a hen ?if one grows it naturally, how can one eat chicken every day.

    In the rains, the fishermen rarely went out to catch fish because it was dangerous. so they ate greens and vegetable proteins then. Yes Austerity was practiced.

    But today if one practises austerity, one is being called “stingy”. One needs to have beef, lamb, fish and seafood on the table. Oh ! i forgot egg too ! I am not even exaggerating !!!!

    Can I make another point ?
    people who bring food from home for office lunches are called misers. it is called “not being sophisticated”, people start “name calling”, categorizing. Especially children from minority backgrounds face this at school and that is how we all get on the american bandwagon of SAD diet. Adults are no less.

    but for people who are travelling on their job frequently food is a predicament. We know what restaurants have to offer and that is a bummer .

    It is the culture of pretension, show off, glamor, “sophistication” and putting down people who eat differently and who take a stand , that faces the glout ! Only a few can stand up to it .

    anrosh

    Reply
    1. Bix Post author

      Wow, that’s a great comment. It’s true, there’s so much junk in the stores. You can’t even tell what the original food was. In my quest for a fat-free tortilla chip (I havn’t found one yet) I noticed a bag of “Chips.” That was all they called them, “chips” and the photo was some weird tan circle. I couldn’t tell if it was a potato chip or a corn tortilla. My answer was in the ingredient list, which included potato starch, corn starch, and a bunch of other things. So it was some over-processed conglomeration of foods that had completely lost its identity. “Food”

      Reply
      1. anrosh

        Corn seems to be there in everything ! I ran a search on google and I was astounded to see the number of products made of starch. Talk about what subsidy can do. And still research is on , what another product that can be made with corn. POST made his millions on a BOXED BREAKFAST product – not food.

        Now when we tell people that we dont have cereals for breakfast , the question is “what do you eat ? People dont know what else is there besides cereal or bacon or egg in the morning.
        Japanese traditionally eat rice in the morning, with miso soup, so do many other cultures. And I eat too. Yes making fresh food is tedious day in and day out , how the benefits of it are multifold. It is the “perception” of the people . and that begins at school. We write in our text books – what do you eat for break fast and answer has to be cereals and that gets ingrained in our brain. And these books are approved by the Department of Education . So Conditioning begins at a tender age and breaking away from this requires a questioning process and we doubt it – we have been doing it for so long and how can it be wrong . Governments have a way of controling our mind and that includes our food too. Our politicians are businessmen in their own county, so they will do what is best for their business. So in the long term they are creating patients, services etc etc.

        Thank You

        Reply
    1. Bix Post author

      In one of the books I read (How The Other half Ate), the author said that eggs were only available in season. I had no idea what she was talking about. She said that hens only produce eggs naturally in the spring.

      Reply
  2. Bix Post author

    I have been watching that poll I put on the sidebar about eating animal food in moderation. “A few times a month” is out in front. I wonder if people consider eggs as animal food. They are such a common ingredient in baked goods in this country that it’s hard to avoid them. As is dairy food.

    I picked up a package of granola at the grocery store and saw butter in the ingredient list, and other chemicals, flavorings, preservatives. Granola used to be the quintessential 1960s anti-establishment all-natural vegetarian hippy food. Ha.

    Reply
    1. anrosh

      that is what i tell people who says that they have been eating this since the 70’s. But when we tell them that the production of crops and how they are produced have changed the next question is , so all are doing it , how can everyone be wrong ? the aftereffects of continued consumption of toxic junk is seen on our bodies . One may appear slim and lean, and that does not mean one is healthy. We may leave longer because of supplements and tablets but the quality of food.

      Oh ! let me come back to corn. I am wondering is there a study done on the effects of eating GMO food over a period of 50 years – It could be auto immune disorders. The rise of auto immune disorders is not a pandemic rise – it is a carefully planned effort orchestrated . Think about Planned obsolescence about food.

      Thank You

      Reply

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