Gone are the days when we had to hunt for meat and climb tall trees to get our groceries. Things were fairly simple back then; there were no fancy herbs or spices and all we had to do was skin and chop up the animal, skewer the meat and roast it over an open fire, sans the seasoning. There was no concept of appetizers or sides or courses; just sitting under the stars and getting something to eat was considered fine dining. The only utensils we had at our disposal were our hands, unwashed in most instances as hygiene was not high on the priority list; staying alive was. One did not have a choice to order a medium rare steak cooked to his/her liking; he/she had to either eat what was available or go to bed (of hay and leaves) hungry.
We humans have come a long way since then and so has our cooking. Food, in general, has evolved into something much more complex and as a result, our palettes are significantly more refined and discerning. There are more cuisines in the world than you can possibly imagine, each marked by their distinct flavor profiles, outlandish ingredients and cooking methodologies. There’s an area of study called Trofology, Food Sciences for us commoners, where scientists study the different properties of food and its processing. Molecular Gastronomy, a sub-discipline of food sciences, is all the rage these days and explores new and interesting ways to prepare/present food. The Food industry grosses almost 6 trillion US dollars and is expected to increase to 7 trillion in 2014.
Besides serving our most basic need for survival, food is an essential part of culture and life in general. Even though the way food is prepared or served has changed drastically from the times of our early ancestors, the emotions it evokes are essentially the same. Recent studies suggest that food can affect your moods, make you happy, or even sad. What’s more, food has the power to bring people closer and that’s what we need in this age of ‘social networking’; having found people we had never hoped to see again online, we have grown distant from the people we love, staying together yet miles apart. I look around me and I see estranged siblings who haven’t talked to each other in years, friends alienated over a meaningless feud, and all I can do is hope that one day, they will sort out their differences over dinner at their favorite restaurant.
Food has come a long way and so should we. Food can fix a lot of things, including broken relationships. So if you think you have a relationship that needs fixing, harden your resolve, set all differences aside, pick up the phone and set up a meeting with the person in question. Water under the bridge, people; life’s too short.