Substitute or compliment
I enjoy cooking and eating, and it never occurred to me to be anything other than proud of having time-efficient and high-quality kitchen skills. Especially when hosting guests, I enjoy using the most exciting ingredients I’ve tucked in to my larder, and flexing that a quick home-made meal can outperform a city restaurant meal in flavor and in cost (and often, although not always, in time).
I was exposed to a different perspective recently, when a guest of mine and another friend got into a (surely toqued) discussion when people brought up the topic of ‘huel’.
Guest: “I don’t think eating boring food is as dehumanizing as Friend thinks it is.”
Many gasps and guffaws later, this was condensed to
Guest: “the way I see it, […] sensory luxury stuff is a palliative for lacking meaning and things to be absorbed in”
I stepped away from the conversation to make some very fluffy omelettes. Upon sitting down, my guest said “I wonder if I don’t deserve this omelette, since I have been saying good food is useless,” but I insisted that it costs me no more to make a good omelette than to make a poor one. (And anyway, it would likely be difficult to make a poor one, since the good ones are second-nature.)
Back online after lunch break, I asked “suppose you are working at a big office, and you have a cafeteria, and you leave your desk to go to the cafeteria; they have one option (‘gray slurry’) and another option (’nice omelette’) which are identical in nutrient content but nice omelette tastes better. The question is”is there something about boring food that is more moral, all else held equal?”
Guest: “No. It’s more like, good food is good, but it’s good as a substitute for a better kind of life that few of us get to live, rather than as a complement.”
And, predictably (I’ve “sunk” hours of my life into developing culinary skills that I think make my life better, I’m going to contend that they do make my life better), my gut sense is that this is flat wrong.
My gut sense contends that eating good food improves morale, and when morale is high, focus (on the ‘meaningful’ and ‘better’ things to be absorbed in) is stronger. I contend that, all else held equal: when I eat good food I am more efficient and my work is of higher quality, in both the mental labors and physical labors that I engage in. I am proud of my labors and I consider them very apsorptive, and full of meaning. I chose my job precisely for this reason, and I align my hobbies as well.
I am curious to hear from others who agree with my guest, because I’m aware that my “argument” is purely fluffy, and based in how I feel. It would be interesting to hear from other points of view, on something that I’ve simply taken for granted based on self-evident personal observation.