In both the periodical and tabloid press these days, the discussion tends to dwell on the bread alone—its scarcity or abundance, its price, provenance, authenticity, presentation, calorie count, social status, political agenda, and carbon footprint. The celebrity guest on camera with Rachael Ray or an Iron Chef, the missing ingredient in the recipes for five-star environmental collapse. Either way, sous vide or sans tout, the preoccupation with food is front-page news, and in line with the current set of talking points, this issue of Lapham’s Quarterly offers various proofs of the proposition that the belly has no ears. No ears but many friends and admirers, who spread out on the following pages a cornucopia of concerns about which I knew little or nothing before setting the table of contents. My ignorance I attribute to a coming of age in the America of the late 1940s, its cows grazing on grass, the citizenry fed by farmers growing unpatented crops. Accustomed to the restrictions imposed on the country’s appetite by the Second World War’s ration books, and raised in a Protestant household that didn’t give much thought to fine dining (one ate to live, one didn’t live to eat), I acquired a laissez-faire attitude toward food that I learn from Michael Pollan resembles that of the Australian koala. The koala contents itself with the eating of eucalyptus leaves, choosing to ignore whatever else shows up in or around its tree.
more from Lewis Lapham at Lapham’s Quarterly here.