My roommate and I have been watching this new Netflix documentary series Cooked and if you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend checking it out. In addition to making me wanting to cut out processed foods from my diet, it also has me thinking philosophically about food preparation.
I think I tend to think about food as something which appears on my table, gets handed to me out of drive-through windows, or at the most needs to be heated up. I think of food as a static object when it is far from that.
Food, most of the time, had to be prepared, cleaned, cut, mixed, steamed, cooked, etc. It was an animal or a plant which grew until a certain point, was harvested, was transported to our kitchens, and then underwent the processes of turning it into food. It is then eaten and returned to the earth to become more plants and animals.
But this is an oversimplification. There are infinite things going on in the process of food. In Cooked, for example, they profile a barbecue master to whom the process of smoking is an intensely emotional one. His methods had been passed from generation to generation to him. He used cooking to bond with the family and friends. For him the process of cooking did far more than produce food for consumption.
Music is a similar sort of process. A musician receives a page with a bunch of lines and dots on it which undergo a process similar to cooking. In the performer’s brain, those raw ingredients get mixed up with notes, tones, musicality, emotions, and collaboration then finally get served to the listeners.
And then the listener (or eater) gets to begin an equally magical process of perceiving that music (or food).
Music and food are just things which emerge from the processes in which they are bound up. Sometimes we forget or miss out on those processes but in reality process is far more beautiful than any static object could ever be.