Food. An innocuous word. Four letters and one syllable. The word sounds a little funny. Say it slowly. It’s not grandiose or evocative like other short words like “seek,” or “fear.” It is four letters but cannot be profane. It’s not even as connotative as the word that describes its subset: meat. And yet….one can associate rapturous things to its blandness. Like a shiny, salt-crusted, bright green olive, marinated in luxurious, first press oil and infused with fragrant herbs that provide a complex counterplay to the firm, tangy interior one tastes when it is slowly chewed. It seems almost a shame to spit out the hard seed inside when teeth and tongue encounter it.
And then think about a plate of fresh, grilled sardines. Redolent with a meaty sweetness that is tempered by the faintly briny taste of sea and char from the fire upon which it was seared. Place one on a crisp, homemade saltine and feel the mixture of textures, meaty and crunchy; then chase it with a quick bite from a brightly flavored, dill-infused, pickle spear.
Images can be powerful complements to words and memories even with a thing routinely described as lifelessly as with the label “food.”