Sorry about the lack of blogposts lately. Iâ€™ve been traveling in North Carolina and West Virginia, visiting family and enjoying the sudden spring. (My motherâ€™s peach tree is in full bloom, and my sisterâ€™s yard is dotted with tasty little bittercress.)
Whenever Iâ€™m around these parts I try to visit my favorite Appalachian independent bookstoreâ€”Malapropâ€™s, in Asheville, North Carolina. And of course, being the person I am, I spend a good deal of time in the food section. I noticed something funny this time: French Women Donâ€™t Get Fat seems to have spawned a whole new genre of diet books. Mediterranean Women Stay Slim Too and Japanese Women Donâ€™t Get Old or FatÂ were nearby on the shelf.
Now, I didnâ€™t study the books in depth, but the gist of each of them seems to be that if you follow this or that cultureâ€™s intact food tradition, youâ€™re likely to be healthy. Right. Eat traditional foods, stay away from industrial processed â€œfood,â€ get moderate exercise in your daily life, and youâ€™ll be healthy. This is not a surprise.
But these books are onto something else most diet books tend to miss: the importance of taking pleasure in food. This gives me hope for the future of American eating. Maybe these books can begin to erode our culture’s peculiar brand of food Puritanismâ€”the stubborn belief that bad-tasting food is good for you and good-tasting food is bad for you, that pleasure in food is a sin, and that bad health is punishment for the sin of pleasure in food. And if we can get over that ridiculous hangup, imagine how healthy we might be!
Pleasure in food is one of my favorite topics. Watch this space for more on some fascinating research that suggests that we get more nutrition from food we enjoy.