Monday, March 23, 2009

Starving Artists

This is not ANOTHER recently discovered Shakespeare portrait, this is fab Frenchman Francois de la Rochefoucauld (1613-1680), who said, "To eat is a necessity but to eat intelligently is an art."  Art is not always easy to pull off, especially when you're hungry.  That's because your stomach has its own brain.

The technical term is enteric nervous system and it sends and receives impulses just like your bigger, more sophisticated brain, the one in your head.  Your belly's brain is as sensitive to emotion as your other brain is.  That's why bad news makes you feel punched in the gut or queasy. . . or voracious.  

Your belly has a brain, but it's not smart in ways we appreciate.  In fact, sometimes it seems downright stupid -- or sadistic.  It drives you to eat when you're under pressure or scared or bored or lonely.  Nourishment doesn't seem to have much to do with it.  Your belly brain doesn't say, Ahem, feeling a bit peckish right now, how about a lovely apple?  It says, Must.  Eat.  Now. It says that bag of orange rubbery circus peanuts you've had since Halloween last would be absolutely delectable.  This is eating, but it is not intelligent and even Dali would be hard-pressed to call it art.

Hunger will not be silenced.  Alas, when you're stressed, into your fourth bananatini and need an intervention, that's when your two brains decide to stop speaking to each other.  That's why the food choices you make in crazy times really matter.  So does stocking your fridge and pantry, so you have options other than the aforementioned circus peanuts.  

Of course, my first choice would be something along the lines of fresh produce, that lovely apple, some nice fresh celery, but if you're produce-averse or only use your refrigerator for lab experiments, you can also do with food that has a shelf life.  I'm not talking protein bars or whathave you, I'm talking real nutrient-rich food, like nuts, not faux ones, dried fruit like figs and raisins, oatmeal, even popcorn (easy on the butter and weird toxic chemicals, please). Snarf what you will, but remember, you're an artist.

Next up -- the calla lilly of cuisine.

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