Numbers, knowledge, and a little bit of power

One way of looking at food and cooking is as a numbers game. Especially if you’re calorie-conscious or on a weight-loss regimen, numbers play a critical role in how you maintain or achieve a healthy weight. But even for everyone else, while keeping track of your intake of fat, calories, etc. may not be essential on a daily basis, I would argue that a firm knowledge of what you’re eating, numerically speaking, is important to understanding, assessing, and appreciating food. I’m currently in an introductory class on nutrition and sensory analysis, where we cover the nature of taste, how to perform a sensory analysis, the biochemical structures and bodily functions of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins, and how to incorporate more wholesome, nutrient-dense ingredients and low-fat or no-fat methods of cooking and flavoring agents to produce food that provides your body with enough energy, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals, while still tasting good. This last point is critical to acknowledge because, all food trends notwithstanding, we’re told that consumers consider taste to be the #1 factor with regard to food choice. 9 times out of 10, real food consumed with balance, moderation, and variety in mind will bestow you with everything your body needs.

The thing is, we all know that eating isn’t just about obtaining 20-35% of your calories from fats or 28g of fiber. So while knowing these barometers is helpful for eating well, and getting the numbers right might mean good health, health is not the only reason we eat food.* In America, there’s an emphasis on health because our nation lacks it and needs to restore it. Hence all the talk on eating stuff that’s “good for you.” Well, food may mean numbers to your body, but is that what it really means to you? I seriously doubt it.

A couple dishes that exemplify the sorts of dishes we’ve cooked thus far:

wild mushroom and goat cheese tortellini, poached shrimp, tomato sauce with basil

seared scallop, smoked tomato sauce, whole grains salad, spinach

*See the WebMD article, “Michael Pollan’s 7 Rules for Eating,” for a brief discussion of what Pollan calls the ideology of “nutritionism” and the myths it propogates.