It’s Monday, the 23 of May. We are heading to Florence and it is also our first chance for a “Food Exploration”: a chance to “explore“ and try new and different food and learn more about it. This has me excited and I’ll be honest a little bit scared. We had talked in class about the different foods we could try at Florence, on of them being a sandwich called Lampredotto. We weren’t given much information about the dish, just the fact that it contains the stomach of a cow. My reaction as always, when it comes to things that I might not like, is disgust. But then I remembered that every time I have said “Ew” out loud as soon as I’ve seen some food I don’t or might not like, my Mom has chastised me, “You must not show disgust towards food. That is disrespectful.” And so though I was miles away from her, I could hear her voice in my head saying the exact same thing. So then I think okay, it can’t be that bad, but I was still undecided whether to eat or not to eat Lampredotto till the moment we got to Florence.
I tried it. I ate it. I ate the Lampredotto. It wasn’t bad, but I definitely would need more getting used to the texture of the stomach of a cow. To be precise, it is the 4rth stomach of the cow. Here is how the sandwich is made in the market of Sant’ Ambrogio in Florence: first, they take the stomach and boil it in a broth. Then, they take it out and chop it into pieces. Then, they dip the top half of the bun in broth to add more flavor while they place the chopped stomach on top of the bottom bun. You get to choose e if you want green and red sauce in it. The green sauce was made of garlic and parsley and the red sauce was made of red peppers for spiciness. I got both on mine. This whole experience was not new and trying new food has always been a big thing for me. All the experiences and my reactions have been hard to explain, but after reading Claude Fischler’s “Food, Self & Identity,” I have had a better understanding of my experience and perhaps, a better justification for my reaction.
In his article, Fischler talks about “the omnivore’s paradox”. As omnivores, we have the ability to eat a variety of food but at the same time, we can’t sustain on only one food and have to eat a variety of food to obtain various nutrients. And so, Fischler explains “disgust” helps us choose between all the variety of food available. “Disgust” helps us like and dislike food and narrows our choices and at the same time, helps understand ourselves through food. As a child, we have neophobia where we have a fear of trying new food and stick with what is familiar to us. Fischer says that this fades away as we get older but the distrust for new food still remains. And this is what I experience every time. I’m distrustful, hence disgusted of the the food as an automatic response. However, when I think and try to eat the new food, sometimes it turns out not to be bad at all. The courage then, perhaps, comes from neophilia, the love and desire to try new things, in this case food. Having this knowledge now, I am more open to try new food. The initial reaction is still there, but I remember and understand now and so I am able to go ahead and try.
I want to add that when trying new food, adding something familiar (the spiciness, the red sauce for me) definitely helped. It bridged the gap between the familiar and unfamiliar. Furthermore, knowing how the food was prepared and who made it definitely helped with lowering the distrust. As Berry and Fischler have pointed out in there articles about blind consumerism and how we don’t even know how most of the food are produced and prepared. Yet, when I reflect, I should be more distrustful of a McDonald’s burger than a Lampredotto. I don’t even now where the burger patty come from, probably not the 4th stomach of the cow, but nevertheless, the reading definitely has helped me understand my experience of trying new food and when it comes to the question: to eat or not to eat? Definitely eat or try at the least. Knowing more about the food is a great help to. Grazie e Ciao!