Food's "other" roles

It surprises me sometimes how we "use" food for purposes other than the obvious. Business meals are, if you think about it, thinly-disguised bribes. (Ironic that in business lunches or dinners, we busy with food the same orifice necessary for conversation.) The phrase "let me buy you lunch" often accompanies the knowledge that the person doing the inviting wants something and food is a fantastic bribe for getting it.

In the romantic world, a man inviting a woman to dinner allows for intimacy, conversation (hopefully minus the business transaction part), an opportunity to show good taste by his choice of restaurant, demonstrate the ability to support by picking up the check, and - let's face it - pouring a drink or two into someone loosens both the conversation and the occasional bit of clothing. In both of the above situations, food is merely a vehicle, a means to an unrelated end.

In other situations, food is less about enjoyment and more about need. Hunger is a reminder that we need food a few times a day but we, being the industrious critters we are, occasionally put ourselves in situations where the options for food are limited or non-existent. Airlines have abandoned the idea of feeding you (for free, anyway). Business trips with late-night arrivals in hotels that don't offer in 24-hour room service can mean dinner will result from feeding quarters into a vending machine. Sometimes, we even lodge with friends and are subject to their interpretations of "cooking". Caveat lodger.

Then there are situations where food doesn't really belong at all. Take popcorn at the movies, for example. I know it's "traditional", but I don't really eat popcorn at home for most of the same reasons I don't eat foam peanuts at home; they're mostly air, lack a whole lot of flavor, and you're guaranteed to have some of it stuck between your teeth.

At a theater, we must also face that inevitable question from the person serving us said popcorn - "Would you like butter on that?" Butter? The only time I've seen actual butter put on a pile of popcorn, I put it there. I don't believe butter will be placed on my popcorn any more than I believe that cheese is being served on the nachos. I'm going to assume that what is actually squirting(!) out of that pump onto the popcorn is something that smells "buttery" and tastes "buttery" but is in no way related to actual butter. (I must confess there is one theater in San Jose which is independent and serves actual butter on their popcorn; a single and powerful reason to go back there.)

And whose brilliant idea was it to sell 32-ounce beverages at a movie theater? First off, even 32-ounces of plain water would pretty much guarantee the need to pee 45 minutes into the film. Secondly, caffeine is a diuretic. You're ASKING for a bathroom break, and there is no pause button in the arm rest at a movie theater.

I recall going to a theater and, for whatever reason, ordering a hot dog. The "meat" for this thing looked like it had been abandoned and turned constantly on those greasy rollers since the initial release of Saturday Night Fever. I ordered the shriveled meat cylinder, the guy assembled the two primary pieces, slid it into that foil-lined bag, and walked away. When I asked why he didn't just hand it to me, he replied - and I kid you not - "we have to walk them down to the register because people steal them." As I removed $6.00 from my wallet for what would be the worst hot dog I've ever eaten, I understood the theft motivation - paying money for it was painful.

But above all, I'm wondering what it is that makes people want to rub food or beer in their hair or on themselves. Daily. I think it was beer that first threw me. A shampoo I remember from my teens called "Body on Tap" claimed to contain beer, with the commercials coyly warning, "But don't drink it!". I'm not sure now if they were being cutesy or simply trying to avoid a lawsuit, but it certainly didn't smell like beer, so whatever amount was in it was not enough to be worth drinking, only enough to make a marketing slogan. But how did they come up with this in the first place? Daily hair-care meets Animal House.

And what of all the other odd food ingredients? Extracts, oils, and "essences" all promising to make hair "shiny and full"? Or all manner of food products to make skin more "youthful", "glowing", "radiant", and other difficult-to-prove adjectives? Someone must have had sushi the day they decided to put seaweed in a shampoo. Much like my take on dirty-martinis, if you wouldn't rub it in your hair by itself, why are you rubbing it in with shampoo?

Bees, too, must be getting sick and tired of us taking their hard work and turning it into all sorts of non-food products. "Burt's Bees", a once tiny and simple company, has since been purchased by Proctor and Gamble presumably giving Burt enough money to shave, get a haircut, buy a new non-Hawaiian shirt, and park his yacht in the Bahamas.

To me, this is all a waste of food. If you're going to put something edible on your body, make sure to have someone standing by to remove it from you; "creatively".


WurdGurl said…
Oh,DB. I've been reading your posts and feel like I could write as-lengthy replies to each of your musings... So much to discuss. ;)

I could start from the beginning and go point by point (not that I disagree with all that you're saying), but I'll just hit the topic of food-on-the-person. I'm *terrifically* suspicious of people who would rather marinate in all manner of toxic chemical concoctions. Bring on the groceries!

Beer actually does leave a coating on your hair that makes it feel thicker. A vodka rinse will make it extra shiny. A few sips as you pour on your rinse will make *feel* pretty glowy and attractive, too. A honey face mask will leave your skin feeling like a baby's arse, as will a yogurt mask. Cleopatra took milk baths, rose water is fabulous in Turkish desserts *and* as an after bath body spray. Papaya makes a terrific facial treatment as the fruit enzymes work to slough off dead skin, kiwi's the same. Try oatmeal and almonds blended in a coffee grinder for a facial scrub.

I could go on and on and on and on... I clean up pretty much exclusively with food. :D And guess what? I'm delicious.

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