A heightened to sense of smell, body taut with anticipation, frenetic brain activity triggered by a riot of aromas and colors, the uncontrollable desire to bite and slurp and finally the pleasure of giving in to the noblest of human desires. Yes, I am talking about eating. Eating is not just putting food in the mouth but it is a profound ritual of immense significance. It involves a complex interplay of the senses of smell and taste, of hand and eye coordination and an ecstatic brain. It entails careful planning each day, in fact a good part of the day is spent dreaming about the lunch, dinner and breakfast. Does it sound familiar? Perhaps it does to many among us. No shame in it and time to come out in the open and declare our love for bingeing, gorging, pigging out or simply overeating.
Who eats to live? A fool or perhaps an ascetic. Sane and joyous live to eat rather overeat. The pleasures of overeating are lost to all those who subject food to cryptic instruments and algorithms to uncover the hidden calories and nutritional value. This is one area where the journey of discovery is unpleasantly enlightening and hence a waste of time. The pleasure of eating resides in eating without calculating, in unleashing the urge to gorge, in engaging food as a lover would his beloved. The pleasure resides in letting the tongue fondle food in an affectionate tango, in lovingly smothering each mouthful with saliva, in chopping the bite into bits while the brain wallows in the gastronomic explosion of orgasmic sensations.
So God made carrots, turnips and cheese and chocolate and meat. Why does meat appeal more to us mortals than carrots? Why does it harm more than turnips if indulged in with abandon? These are questions of metaphysical nature and hint at a God with an out of this world sense of humor. Eating carrots sharpens the vision and facilitates the bowels. The meat on the contrary spawns cholesterol and uric acid. Conceded it does but can anybody with an iota of sanity compare a juicy T-bone rare steak with a bland, nondescript carrot. I can’t help but lay the blame squarely at the door of divinity. This is discrimination divinely ordained. Perhaps the world is indeed a place of test of will with no room for hedonists and gluttons. That our conduct with fellow humans is subject to a divine regimen is common to all religions. That what we eat and drink has ramifications too is injustice. Imagine if meat had the benefits of carrots or carrots tasted like meat. Either way we would have been eating a lot of both. But then it was not meant to be. God was not that kind. For eternity meat was condemned to be the choicest food of sinners, of lovers of the brew. We are all too familiar with the expression ‘sharab aur kebab’.
Coming back to overeating, the allegedly wiser among us tell us of eating never to the point of satiation. Bollocks. Think about Americans. With all their progress in the realms of science and entertainment, nothing has dampened their eating fervor. In fact Americans have taken buffets to a new zenith. Quantity of food is as important as quality. Servings come in all sizes. Extra Large is outdated and XXL is the new standard. Pakistan has toed the American line for 60 years of its existence and is not far behind the superpower in its penchant for food. Surprisingly, this is hardly a point of concern for the righteous who never miss an opportunity to heap blame on US.
O God, bless me with the craving of the mortals and health of the immortals.