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Nomads to NOMA...the full circle!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Around 5000BC, along the banks of the Great Nile, the hunter/gatherer homo sapiens turned to farming and domestication of animals. Food was a mere means of survival. So it is fair to say that we ate to live. Soon the Egyptians and Babylonians started using multiple ingredients and evolve techniques to make three meals a day. Eating started becoming a culture and there are evidences of buffets being laid in the land of the Pharos.


In the Anno Domini - it was the Romans who started eating for pleasure and to the extent that Caesars’ grand banquets hosted over thousands of people. They were known for their elaborate Cenas which lasted for hours culminating in drinks and dance extravaganzas. ‘Live to eat’ philosophy was being exemplified. Even though hierarchy played a vital role, it is fair to say that communal eating brought the classes together. Socializing was at its pinnacle.


Food was the epicenter in most cultures and civilizations.

Communal eating involves sharing, which is a sign of security and abundance, providing comfort and eliminates greed. Strange analogy to chew on – ‘People carving out of a hog roast Vs Family of tigers tearing off a hunted gazelle’. Is the difference due to taming the spontaneity/ urge/ hunger? Can we term it as evolution in the mannerism or creating social norms?


However, evolved communal dining could be self centered….my starter, my main, my dessert. A lot of the so called- ‘evolved cuisines’ evolved into this dining pattern. I feel cuisines that were culture driven (Spanish, Chinese, Indian, Middle and far eastern…) evolved their cuisine around sharing, community eating and informality.


Cranium size shrank- gray matter folded and thinking flourished. The increase in the logic, science, knowhow, development took us away from the stark facets of nature. But we do seem to be going back to basics as we have again started patronizing seasonal, organic, artisan and local produce.


Have we done a full circle? - only but, armed with science and technology and a totally different perspective of looking at the same bare facts viz, Corn smut (Huitlacoche) being a fungal delicacy and not a corn menace. Fermented pastes in most recent of creative menus - which truly, were a natural outcome of deterioration and slowly we tamed the process to our advantage…Bread and Beer!!


Is the ‘Time and Place’ philosophy of Rene, unique to NOMA?

Or it always coexisted in nature as beings lived off the land and survival was the key?

Is Entomophagy a passing fad or a survival kit?

Are insects our next BIG protein?

Are we going in circles??

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