Food Fatigue: It Could Happen To You
In between culinary school, food writing, working towards my M.A. in Food Studies, my food-dominated Twitter feed, and constant exposure to adherents of the middle-class movement to Save The Underprivileged Fatties From Themselves, I have had it. I want to crawl into a hole and work on a submission for the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine or sort out my unexamined feelings about having grown up with live-in servants or, I don’t know, something, anything. Anything but food.
There is a Cantonese expression that pops up in kung fu movies to describe an over-eager disciple who has practiced his moves too much, too hard, and has totally snapped as a result. It sounds like “dzou foh yup moh,” which translates literally to something like “the fire is extinguished and the beast enters” (although I could be mistaken on that count since I was never taught to read Chinese–coincidentally, another topic I would rather write about right now than food–and am just kind of guessing phonetically at the morphemes) and it perfectly describes how I am feeling at the moment. It’s similar to the Western idea of “burning the candle at both ends,” but it covers the consequences of over-extending oneself, too: that is, leaving one vulnerable to all sorts of bad things, represented here figuratively as demonic possession.
It doesn’t help that almost all of the social issues in food are what sociologists call “wicked problems”–problems, that is, with complex and changing requirements that mean that there are no true or false solutions, merely better and worse ones. (School food is a perfect example.) Every wicked problem produces dozens of opposing camps, each with its own perspective and arguments, and the trouble is that I am usually sympathetic to several of them at once. Trying to decide where I’m going to stand in the debate overwhelms me to the point where I’d rather retreat altogether.
So, for a little while, I think I’m going to retreat. I’m going to let my brain breathe and see how I feel. And I’m not coming back until I’ve written a goddamned detective story.