So I finished The Omnivore’s Dilemma this morning. I half expected to skip the final section where Pollan contemplates vegetarianism and chronicles his adventures in growing, foraging and hunting his fourth and final meal. I’m never going to hunt, don’t like mushrooms and the only foodstuff I’ve ever been able to keep alive for a period of time is a basil plant – and I’m really never going to be a vegetarian. And this relates to me how? But I actually found it the most moving part.
The last meal was about community – about learning from and needing help from friends and neighbors, and about cooking for them. Pollan may have eliminated the middlemen to make his meal, but the food on the table was the product of anything but self-reliance.
When I enlist his sous chefing help, Jesse usually asks what I could possibly enjoy about cooking. And I realized that this is what I like about it. Because I don’t actually like food that much – raw tomato makes me retch, onions are my enemy and banana smell makes me queazy; I have real food issues – and chopping is seriously dull work. But I love the tradition of it. That humans have been making meals of plants and animals for thousands of years, and that I am benefiting from millennia of that acquired knowledge, is a neat idea. And sharing that with friends, either in the kitchen, at the table or on a blog, is deeply satisfying to me.
Which is probably not what I was supposed to take away from the book, but there you have it.