I used to love to peel or slice apples into perfect teeth and graft the inside of the base of bananas to my ears. The idea of eating a sticker would have felt utterly weird, but now I know it really is no big deal. There are all sorts of odd, though I don’t think particularly disgusting, ways of using stuff people give us for free, stuff that we’re not supposed to get inside our bodies (such as chips, anything that has been heated and smothered in grease, chewing gum) but sometimes we do. Sometimes we eat things that don’t taste of anything or look much like anything. It’s as if a demented food therapist strolls into your kitchen, plonks a charming photograph of herself on a piece of shit, and then says, “OK, show everyone this on your plate.”
It’s a weird philosophy and it’s made more complicated by the fact that great meals don’t just end with a serving of food, they also end with a backdrop of sounds, smells, rustle and movement; sometimes all of it makes you smile even if the food does not. We ate with our mouths open and mouths full. We ate the sweet aroma of the blossoms which was of course divine. We picked and cut up wild mushrooms with the hot, damp-handedness of mothers with young children (though in this case it was with their minds squarely on work). I loved the delicate smell of the focaccia rolling around in my mouth like a poltergeist being sucked up to the sky by some ineffable force of love, or something. This aroma lasts for a little bit, it wafts back down to earth and disappears, but that just opens up a new phase of memories.
The actual event is what makes us eat. It’s for everyone to enjoy. Eating vegetables may not be healthy but it’s not purely a fad. Of course sometimes we think it’s a fad but a lot of times it’s the reverse. Even when we’re meant to put down the radishes, we do.
It’s also an explosion of intelligence. We’re not just dealing with edible objects, we’re also dealing with speech, smells, activity and the shape of each person’s brains. And the thing we’re seeing is largely invisible, like the glittering eyes of an ice princess. The thing is, if we don’t pay attention, the eye thing goes away. The eye thing is a light switch, and we flick on when we want to see. Our eyeballs are no worse than after a hot meal of apple crumble and custard. There isn’t anything to hide.
There may be someone who feels it’s unadulterated and pure food. But if I eat a banana, I’m not looking at it the way I would with the skin or the skinless skin, I’m looking at it through the eyes of a gifted composer. I’m looking at it through a window. In the present moment, things are so confusing and bright and vibrant that my eyes are richly distracted from any sort of regulation of food. I don’t know what kind of food I’m looking at. I know exactly what I’m not looking at: the innocent stuff, the fruit, the bits of leaves and the ripening bits. Instead I’m always looking at the impression of life out of my fingers and the face. I’m looking at living brainwaves and trying to find patterns in dissonance, trying to find connections in noise, trying to find art.
Food is a colourful source of reassurance; it reminds us of what we should be looking forward to. The only problem is when we eat something that doesn’t smell like something, we have a sensation of injustice, our eyes start to glaze over. They want to see more and this is why I fall for fruit that I should be put off. It’s more appealing, I think, to think of eating a little watermelon than to put down a fleshy thing I don’t understand, nor do I think it makes a lot of sense to think it makes sense to eat anything in a fridge. It’s a lot more appealing to think that we just have to hold our tummies open, have a cuppa and wait for that glowing apple to take its sweet half.
Have you ever been at this point? Does it matter if I eat the stickers on fruits and vegetables? Does it matter if I eat the things on the outside too? Or is everything so glossy and sophisticated that you can’t be bothered to look up from your plate?