“A man desiring to understand the world looks about for a clue to its comprehension. He pitches upon some area of common-sense fact and tries to see if he cannot understand other areas in terms of this one. The original area then becomes his basic analogy or root metaphor” (Stephen C. Pepper, quoted in Victor Turner 1974:26) – I never realized that “food” can be such a productive root metaphor in performance studies, cultural studies, ecnomics, or other fields until the readings of this week. The food does deserve the academic attention since all human beings around the world, though of different cultural backgrounds, all eat to survive (and survive to eat)!
The Gastrotourism is a way to access a specific culture. My first impression on the United States was based on the foods in the delis, supermarkets, and restaurants along with the specific American behaviors (tips, brunch, or late dinner, for example). However, instead of just going somewhere and eating according to the guides of the magazines, internet, or the “Zagat” icon, I want to know something more about the “performance sequence” (Schechner 1985) of the food – where and how the ingredients come from, how they are turned into foods, how they are presented in front of our face and taken into our mouth, how they are digested, and finally came out of our body as wastes, which may nourish some other creatures on the earth and generate more ingredients. The sequence of eating embodies human’s relation to the material world. It is a process of how human beings take the world in and out of their bodies. Thus it is no wonder that the food studies would lead to the concerns of the eco system.
Beside the psychogeography, there should also be “Gastro-psychology,” like the Indian notion “rasa,” which literally means “flavor” but also suggests the different human feelings. The food may generate different feelings in us. This is why the Buddhist monks do not eat garlic or ginger which may arouse their sexual desire. The smell or flavor of certain food can also trigger our memories of specific moments, such as the famous Madeleines cake in Proust's Rememberance of Things Past. To experience the psycho effect of the food, I guess slowness is needed. Slow Food Movement is like a New Age movement – a food meditation, not only to revitalize people’s awareness of his/her own body, the five senses, but also to strike a new balance between human beings and the world in terms of the food sources.
I wondered the world would be totally different if we knew clearly about the sequence of how food is made. After watching a video clip about how the cow was butchered and turned into beef, some of my friends were converted into vegetarians. In the Gastrotourism, most of the tourists can only visit the front region of the food industry. If we can enjoy the food slowly, and if we can go to the back region, the kitchen or even the food factory, we may have a chance to know what food is good for our own body and good for the world as well.