Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Eating Good

I've been thinking a lot recently about something Tony Bourdain wrote in one of the essays in The Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Usable Trim, Scraps, and Bones. I don't remember which essay, but most of them are amusing enough it's worth reading the whole book.

He asks us to eat good things.

Not things that are good for us, nor just things that taste good. He advises first of all to eat things that taste good, yes, but he also requests that we eat things that are prepared well. He is, obviously, against fast food, but not for the same reasons Eric Schlosser is; Bourdain is about quality ingredients and skilled preparation. I don't think he says this, but I think he would agree with eating everything as if it were the last thing you were going to eat.

Because I work around food every day, and because I've been learning more and more about food preparation from the great cooks and the foodies in my life, I am getting an increasing understanding of food quality. The food bank receives a lot of stuff from farmers' markets and from Trader Joe's, so I'm tasting better-quality, fresher, and riper (sometimes too-ripe) everything. At the same time, the range of quality of the nonperishable goods is huge, and the labels tell me so, even if it's the same item (like three brands of chicken noodle soup, for example).

I've been thinking about eating better everything. There are things that I like for which I'm not looking to change my taste, but there are things that I think I might like better if I found better versions (grape tomatoes from TJ's were this year's revelation; I thought I didn't like tomatoes). It seems that these days I consider eating things by asking myself, "Is this worth my time and my taste buds?"

If the Mother Ship arrived to pick me up, would I want the last thing I ate to be Cheetos?

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