Food + Drink

Living to eat

Captivated by food


By Buro247

Living to eat

Whenever it began, it’s inarguable that food is enjoying its more than protracted moment in the sun. We devour with our eyes the Botticelli-esque proportions of Nigella as she breathily proclaims her predilection for full fat cream, while our preoccupation with dining at Michelin-starred restaurants is as obsessive as the insatiable need of horny Lotharios to accumulate notches on their bedposts with every new sexual conquest.

If the ’80s was the decade of shoulder pads, conspicuous consumption, flashy logos, and Dynasty, then surely the noughties belong incontrovertibly to food and its exponents. In the endless debate about whether one should eat to live or live to eat, self-professed members of the latter category form the overwhelming majority, while those who prefer to eat for survival are reluctant to say as much, for fear of being shouted down as being killjoys.


Because, after all, isn’t eating the ultimate sensual act? The vehicle for us to verbally express words of love and to kiss, our mouths are also the gateway for the consumption of food. Throw into the mix the unassailable fact that eating is an intensely social activity, and meals partaken with friends and family ensure healthy relationships and happy memories that are as efficacious at evoking nostalgia as an album brimming with photos, and it’s easy to see why we’re all clamouring to be food lovers.

I for one am as guilty as the next person of proclaiming my love for food. And while you might reasonably point out that this is a fairly self-evident fact, considering my vocation, it’s perhaps not my championing of food as much as it is my disregard for those who claim the opposite that should come into question. Benjamin Franklin once (probably unpopularly) said that we should eat to live and not vice versa. In the greater scheme of things, food should be respected as a source of sustenance, as fuel to preserve life, rather than as the object of our idolatry.

Since when did food become a source of comfort, a tool to reinforce social networks and to build communities, a form of therapy, reward, punishment, and even a means to assuage boredom? At a time when cookbook sales are bought and displayed to reinforce one’s discerning tastes rather than being used for their true purpose, and cooking reality shows dominate prime time television with tedious ubiquity, perhaps it is high time we take a step back from our vociferous adulation and reassess our relationship with food.


Unlike some of our leaders, we pride ourselves on not being driven by greed for money and power. But haven’t we done just that with food? As Malaysians, we talk incessantly about food, and derive the greatest pleasure from arguing with each other ad nauseaum about whose favourite fried kway teow seller is best, even as we routinely plan our next meals while devouring dinner. Would then a more ambivalent attitude towards food yield better productivity at work, a clearer perspective on life, and the reassertion of our long lost autonomy? Extremists of the eat to live doctrine fast regularly to maintain control over food, and it has been maintained that they live tangibly longer than the rest of us who are guilty of hyperphagia, or overeating, in layman’s terms. After all, if you are biblically inclined, gluttony is still one of the seven deadly sins!

Speaking purely personally however, I cannot imagine a life yawning infinitely before me, with only the prospect of crudités, dry crackers and little more to sustain me (in order, ironically, to prolong said life!). I may be a captive to food and all its attendant evil temptations, and I am guilty of devoting a considerable part of my waking hours towards planning meals to feed loved ones, but when all is said and done, if I am only guilty of committing one of the seven deadly sins, then I’m still firmly in the black, and that’s a lot more than can be said for many of those who govern us.


Follow Fay on Twitter and Instagram at @misskhoo.

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