"[Eve] Turow's theory is that in a digital-first era, many people latch onto food as something that engages all of the senses and brings people together in physical space."
"Turow: I really think it comes down to technology, for a few reasons. One, is sensory deprivation. We have formed into a society that's so accustomed to sitting in front of a screen and typing, for the vast majority of the day. And the truth of the matter is that it's not exciting all of our senses. Through interviews over and over again, I kept hearing that people want something that's tangible, that they can see and feel and smell and taste and that we're the guinea pigs of growing up in that [digital] world.
At the same time, it's also making us more isolated. We're craving community. And food is also allowing us to access the globe, so we can find out what harissa is made with and how to prepare something with it, in two seconds on our phones."
I have to say that this resonated with me, enough to want to discuss the subject further with you.
Recently, a close friend of mine, a venture capitalist, on the verge of his 50th birthday, and I were discussing his next phase of life. I remember telling him something very similar to the above: "You live too much in your head and online ... we have five senses. Engaging all five senses would perhaps give you a more immersive life experience, and cooking, for example, may be something worth experimenting with."
I come from a culture (Bengali) that has a long and treasured culture of cooking, of celebration of the culinary arts. My husband comes from the French cultural tradition, also one that celebrates the culinary arts at its core. We also love people, parties, especially small dinner parties around a table full of great food, most of which we have prepared ourselves, or our friends or family have prepared themselves, with tender love and care. Amidst our technology-centric lives in the heart of Silicon Valley, we have never lost sight of this basic principle, this simple rhythm.
About six years back, in fact, we even founded a gourmet club. A group of us - all passionate about cooking - gather every so often, and cook and eat together. We play together, essentially, with all our senses. Our most recent gathering was around the theme Scent of the Green Papaya, the beautiful and exquisitely sensuous 1993 film set in Vietnam. We cooked an elaborate Vietnamese meal. Spicy tuna tartare. Halibut in ginger and lime broth. Shaking beef. Lime and basil sorbet. And around our table, on a summer afternoon, we shared this meal, laughed, deeply inhaled the smell of lemongrass. We sighed, as we felt a sense of contentment, of deep connection.
As I look around this fast evolving world, over-engineered, over-populated with technology and gadgets, I appreciate this more fundamental, more tactile, more human connection.
And you? Do you cook?
Note: All pictures are of the author and her friends, and food they have prepared by hand, lovingly, not as a cobbled together chore.