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What exactly am I doing when I inspect the oranges and apples and avocados like I’m picking out new paint for the dining room?
Certainly not practicing to be a fruit critic. Looking for bruises? Perhaps. I suspect I am moreover selecting for beauty, under the guise of “checking for ripeness.”
I’ve even wasted precious moments of my short life perusing for the perfect potato. Too high for the grocery store? Not me, officer, just a citizen deeply concerned with the morphology of chives.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Swipe left, swipe right. Darwin would say having preferences is part of the plan. Cosmetics are a half-trillion-dollar industry, but not all driven by vanity. People like to look good because it makes them feel better.
Should it matter one little crumb what food looks like? Would I drink that latte if the barista didn’t make a foamy Rosetta? It’s all going to the same place anyway.
Some of the best tasting and healthiest foods are aesthetically disappointing, and that puts my sensibilities in a pickle. Monkfish looks like cow snot but tastes like lobster. Ugli fruit looks like a lemon and a grapefruit hooked up one hot summer night by a nuclear reactor. Oh, but Molly, it tastes sweet and tangy with notes of divinity.
Passion fruit. Passion for what, dirty diapers? Cottage cheese? Mmm, with pepper please, but not on my thighs or butt.
How desperate the first Amorite to try a black truffle must have been. Let us pray we are never that hungry. Hey Igor, this big black ball of fungus I dug up in the forest tastes utterly intoxicating! Little did he know they’d be selling for $1,000 per pound a mere four millennium later.
Snuggled deep within the shriveled football-shaped shell of the cacao pod lie the motherload of all goodness. First, you must contend with that white, mucous-membrane looking film they call pulp. Peel that, then harvest, ferment and dry, roast and grind, blend and temper, and mold. A pretty process? Hardly. Worth it? Ask Willy Wonka.
Begrudgingly, I am aware fewer and fewer simple things seem sacred in our society these days. Sunrises and sunsets were once all the rage. Babies and puppies were enough. The sound of cicadas got me through. Today, people are buying real estate on the Metaverse in a race to usher in dystopia, who cares what oatmeal looks like? Put it in my mouth and forget it.
Dramatic changes occur to cells simply by altering the environment of the petri dish, and people are a conflagration of cells. Relationships, climate, culture…everything affects us on a deeply cellular, emotional level. It seems our eyes need to see beauty like our bellies need nutrients. Aesthetics do matter, art matters, creativity matters.
We are a product of our environment; what we surround ourselves with functions as a feedback loop in the mind and body. What goes in goes out, and what goes out goes in. Appreciate beauty where it is and make beauty where it isn’t, whatever beauty is to you. Art should never be a means to an end.
To that I say: make your monkfish look magnificent, your passion fruit presentable, and your cottage cheese part of your curation. Pose your perfect potato and crown your chosen chive. Make it beautiful, admire your work, then eat it.