The worlds of words and food are irrevocably intertwined. It is difficult to enter one without the other. Just as a recipe is made up of many ingredients, so is life. Food is only one component of life, but an important one. We need food to live, but it also enhances life–our experiences and sensations. Words serve as our food, nourishment, and how we communicate. They console, inspire, excite, and entertain. Food is also a language…of love and friendship, and of connection to our senses of sight, taste, smell, and touch. It also comforts (“comfort food”), inspires (through presentation), excites (smell and sight of food ignite our hunger), and entertains (complex and lively notes of dishes play with our taste buds). Words are a way for us to connect to others and forge an intimate connection. We bond over meals, and the sharing of food is an intimate gesture among family, friends, and couples.
The areas where words and food reside and overlap are the senses, associations, and language. And these areas themselves are intertwined. Bad tasting or nutritionally poor food leaves you feeling empty and unsatisfied. Inadequate or incorrect words can do the same. There are many sayings in the English language that include food. “The experience left a bad taste in my mouth.” “Life is sweet.” “He’s a bad apple.” “She’s a peach.” “What’s with the sour face?” Many endearing expressions are food-related (honey, sweetie pie, muffin, cookie). Words and food evoke strong emotions, reactions, and associations. The word “mother” or “father” can elicit powerful feelings, as can tasting a dish that brings you right back to that dinner over which you fell in love.
Our senses are heightened by perfectly seasoned and prepared food, the same is true with words. Recipes and words are borrowed, improvised, passed down, and reinvented. Recipes come out poorly if not cooked properly, components are missing, directions aren’t followed, or the presentation is wrong. Words come out poorly due to faulty execution, wrong timing, lack of thought, and differing definitions. Words and food can both steep, soak, marinate, mix, cook, simmer, and boil. They can both be rich or bland. Words fill us as food does, and the quality of both affects us similarly. So you see, words and food have a symbiotic relationship. Words are our food. Words Are Food.