Food, food culture, food as culture and the cultures that grow our food

Scared of a little granola perfume

May 6, 2005

In Dutch we have a term, ‘doorheenbijten’ that means literally ‘to bite through something’. We use this term to describe the painful process of exploring unchartered territory. Think for just a moment about what could have motivated someone to invent such an idiom. Now, think about the circumstances that would have caused an entire culture to embrace this idiom enough to use it regularly!

The images above show the author about to take her first bite of paan without any idea what paan could possibly smell, taste or feel like. It is quite strange to try something with very little previous reference, and having never tried chewing tobacco, paan was unchartered territory for me.

In a neat little kiosk by the side of the road the paan wallah prepared the leaf for me with all manner of goos, crystals, flakes, shavings and sprinkles - none of which seemed familiar. Although I would like to say that I bravely put the roll into my mouth and enthusiastically started chomping away, the photograph above reveals the utter lack of trust and relax I had in approaching this new foodstuff. You can also see how such an utter lack of trust and relax results in a particularly unaesthetic portrait. That fact alone should be motivation enough to drop some food taboos.

Good news is that as I reported earlier, paan is delicious, something like eating granola perfume. And like the photograph that I keep of myself in the freezer to remind me of what I looked like in a bikini in 1998 (to avoid an over-consumption of ice-cream), I have decided to keep this picture at hand to remind myself to be more trusting of new foods.

The images were taken by Julian Scaff during the Nomadic Banquet Workshop group’s stay in Delhi (Doors of Perception; Platforms for Social Innovation, Dutch Art Institute Rucksack Project).

debra at 12:36 | | post to

1 Comment »

  1. Let that be a lesson to you all, trust foods that other people eat, and always have your friends take flattering photographs of you when you’re eating.

    Comment by Debra — October 26, 2005 @ 21:41

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