I like to say that I love anything and everything to do with food, however most of the time, my blog posts all have something to do with me consuming it. I am very happy to say however, that here is something a little different, but just as compelling and enriching...presenting, 'What I Eat Around the World', a photo exhibit currently on display at the Museum of Science in Boston.
I had heard about this exhibit through a savvy friend and was immediately interested. It consists of a project run by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Alouiso, a photographer and author who compiled and compared the daily diets of 80 different people from 30 different countries.
This is an incredible way to catch a glimpse into the wide range of food from culture to culture and lifestyle to lifestyle, while also bringing to mind important questions concerning the very importance of food within different people's daily lives and particularly the relatively recent obsession with counting calories.
The exhibit, which only displays 25 of these diets, ranges from the lowest amount of caloric intake in one day, to the highest. At 800 calories, we have Noolkisaruni Tarakuai, a Maasai Herdenr from Kenya. For this mother of seven, politics and increasingly ruthless weather conditions make the procurement of food a constant struggle. One cup of milk from her herd of cows is the norm and most if not all of it goes to her herdsman and children. Meat is even more rare.
Her daily diet consists of cornmeal porridge, a banana, black tea with whole milk and sugar and water.
This diet is in stark contrast to Jill Mctighe, the so-called 'Snacker Mom' from Great Britain who would consume a total of 12 300 calories in a day, the highest amount recorded in the project.
During a period of struggling with drug abuse, Jill would go binge eat through about five sandwiches, chicken with gravy, pork sausages, french fries, potatoes, eggs, cookies, multiple candy bars and chips.
Thankfully, Jill has since undergone some intensive counseling, dropped her substance abuse and maintained a much healthier, balanced and binge-free diet.
After making your way through such an exhibit, you begin to wonder what your caloric intake for a day would be and how it might compare to some of the diets elsewhere in the world.
What most interested me however was the relation between what people eat and the lifestyles they lead, without a doubt, the famous saying 'you are what you eat' takes on a very literal meaning in this exhibit.
Of course, it is also difficult to come out of the exhibit without an appetite. Luckily, the Museum of Science is quite close to Cambridge - a mecca of delicious dining destinations. My friends and I headed straight for AREA IV - where I have been trying to get since it opened earlier this spring.
It is interesting to come upon a menu after such an experience and go about your usual ordering. You can't help but wonder what it might look like if it were to be compiled into a photo with you alongside it.
I will admit however, that this philosophical state did not last too long and as dishes like their mac and cheese with bacon bits, bluefin and scallion salad and fennel sausage with banana pepper pizza came out, I quickly lost the analytical edge.
Everything was delicious - everything was fresh and I would have been proud to show everything we got as a tenet of my daily diet...unfortunately, I couldn't say that all my days look like this...but I suppose you can always dream.
Especially when a homemade Crimson Berry soft serve sundae is involved...
I would go back to both the exhibit and Area IV, simultaneously or independently - they are both incredible acts of culinary genius, one that displays, throws into perspective and questions, while the other satisfies, amuses and surprises.
Who knew food could be so enlightening;)