The Epicure


Basics of Simplicity

  • Consider the cumulative effects of flavor in your diet. From a bite, to a dish, to a meal, to a day.
  • Respect the rhythms of flavor in a dish; a meal; a day;
  • Respect the architecture of taste. Always be aware of negative and positive tastes. Flavors can accumulate, augment and also nullify.
  • Understand the conflict and compatibility of flavors. Understand them as vowels and  consonants, and the most important silences in between;
  • Respect the logic of structure, in food, in flavor, the shapes. A flavor is an argument, an advertisement, and a reward. It will have a logic which corresponds to it’s purpose. The argument of a flavor is “eat this”, and you must decide whether it’s well reasoned or not. The advertisement is “this tastes good”, the reward comes if it’s actually good for you, as well as giving pleasure;
  • Re-set your base-line regularly. Drink water for thirst. Be sure that taste confusion and taste blindness can not develop. This isn’t a matter of taste, it’s a matter of biology.
  • Understand the range and balance of your tastes and respect them. Acuity, the ability to taste, is a tool; understanding the meaning of taste is a skill, a craft.
  • Challenge your tastes, don’t confuse them. Train your tastes and gather a “library” of essential tastes.
  • Respect evolution, respect tradition, and recognize that neither has an end.
  • Simplicity in complex systems is realized through the harmony of its elements: Focus, rhythm, clarity. Find the best examples of a food, or a flavor, and respect it. Never add anything which compromises it’s true nature.
  • Never add an ingredient which doesn’t improve what’s there already. The addition of a second flavor shouldn’t be done to compensate for lack of quality in the first one, and must never contradict it. Tastes are subject to context.
  • Develop the flavors of an ingredient when possible rather than adding others to it.
  • Avoid imitation flavors. Genuine flavors can not be copied.
  • Ideas must be focused and meaningful, and flavors must express their essence. Just as writing must express ideas with the fewest possible words, the good cook will express flavors with the fewest possible ingredients. Everything else is just marketing, or nostalgia, or corruption.

There are many paths to any goal. We may follow Eric Schlosser in Fast Food Nation and design a cuisine around a principled set of social and economic policies. We may follow any of the purely dietary programs, local organic, etc. We may follow Michael Pollan and Alice Waters’ “populist elitism”, the idea that a good healthy diet will lead to a good healthy planet filled with good healthy citizens.

We tend to characterize taste as good and bad, and we don’t often think of this as anything more than a casual judgment of other peoples choices. We use it to establish distinctions, intellectual, economic, social. But in the world of Gusticide this misses the point. The new taste is no linger a function of need or desire, the body or the imagination. It’s a tool used, like everything else in that world, to produce revenue. Co-opted by producers of food culture, our tastes are now expected only to assist in dismantling of our culture and our biology.

I believe that the people, when they have the proper education and opportunities, are the elite. I believe that taste is a deeper and more fundamental sense than we normally allow. Taste is far more than buds and nostrils. Taste, as I would like to see the term used, is how we both sense and view the world. Seen this way, there’s no such thing as Good Taste; only taste which corresponds to the physical world in a way that’s beneficial to an organism, or a life.

The Epic Cure

Train, Target, Tune. We need to train our tastes. We need to target our tastes to design a legitimate culinary repertoire, and then we need to tune our tastes on a continuous basis, much as our eyes constantly adjust to varying light.

Training is simple. It can take a while, but it’s a natural progression.

Targeting our tastes is more complex. This involves active active decisions about what we want to like, what we want to put into our bodies. We need to stop thinking about what we like, and start thinking about what we want to like. We know enough about nutrition to understand the effect of our diet. We know the dangers and can adapt our desires to accommodate what we cannot change: biology.

Tuning tastes is simply being alive, with the awareness of what our senses are bringing to us.

Some Random Ideas To Get Started:

Avoid Salad dressing from a bottle. In restaurants, try to get simple oil and Vinegar.

Learn to make vinaigrette in 1 minute.

Avoid drinking anything with sugar in it with meals

Learn to like water, tea, or of course wine.

Avoid mayonnaise, the sugar level is frightening and skews every taste.

Aoli, though rarely authentic, is often made with care. Learn to make mayonnaise. It’s easy.

Avoid cheese on sandwiches which don’t need it. Today most people don’t even know you can make a roast beef sandwich without it. It drains flavor from many meats.

Find excellent meats and cheeses and make sandwiches without condiments. You will be amazed at the flavor once you adapt your tastes.

 

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