Food Appreciation

We must be preoccupied with food.

Earlier this week the Bravo Network announced plans for Top Chef: Masters, a spin off to its successful food competition, where by “some of the brightest stars in the world of food, award-winning, widely-renowned Chefs, will compete against each other in a series of weekly challenges.”

Also this week, the Wall Street Journal sized up the two vying presidential candidates by reviewing their favorite eateries.  It was revealed that both men have an affinity for Tex-Mex and pizza.  And while McCain is more of “a regular-guy diner-out, happy to follow Arizona custom with a Tex-Mex combo platter”, Obama prefers haute Mexican cuisine, frequently indulging in a bowl of Sopa Azteca at Rick Bayless’s Topolobampo.

But what caught my attention this week, and brought about my opening postulation, was a brief anecdote posted in the Diner’s Journal, recounting a medical intern’s dining experience at the Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York. 

It may sound bizarre to use the locution dining experience in correlation to a hospital, yet it is fully appropriate in this circumstance.  For her meal didn’t take place under the sterile green ambience of a hospital cafeteria, but at view of the Hudson River from the hospital’s restaurant, Windows.

Windows has been in business solidly for a few years, and its presence isn’t what struck the intern.  Rather, it was the menu and its tantalizing selections that included a Kobe beef burger, tequila grilled shrimp, butternut squash ravioli, and ahi tuna, dishes attune to her and our cultures developed dietary conscious.

The efforts of the hospital to provide attention to its food — in a larger capacity than merely having it available — verifies that the savvy diner is not part of a specialized group.  The general public occupies itself in various scales of food knowledge and appreciation, but it seems the scales have collectively risen.

Whether it’s a foodie chirping about a new gastro-pub, a mother of four maintaining a locally grown diet, or an overworked medical resident finding a palatable meal, all of these individuals contribute in forming our cultures culinary landscape.  A landscape that is better irrigated and tended to than in years past.

So is our culture preoccupied with food?  Perhaps fascinated is a better description.

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