Exploring the Sensualities Of Food


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Most of you walk by the Desi Dog stand everyday, where a hotdog-grabbing devil-woman looks you in the eye while squeezing a bottle of ketchup. Food is undoubtedly sensual, and it is no surprise that marketing strategies often tap into this truth. Food-related political groups have opted to play off of this as well, hoping to woo supporters with flashy, provocative taglines and imagery.

For example, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA, for short) recently presented a potential Super Bowl advertisement to NBC. The short television spot was rejected by the network due to its extreme sexuality-the ad featured scantily clad women licking pumpkins, bathing in hot tubs full of carrots and using asparagus in a very suggestive manner. The climax featured the phrase, "Vegetarians have better sex." Can vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians or all-out carnivores proclaim their lifestyle to be the most sexually appetizing? Certainly, some foods are more arousing than others; let's take a look at a few.

Much of the PETA clip's shock value comes from the use of fruits and vegetables as sexual props, which to many may seem strange and perverse. While you probably wouldn't consider broccoli to be the object of your desires, the notion really is not that crazy. Have you seen a fig? Figs are perhaps the epitome of desire, their texture, taste and appearance evoking both the male and female forms. There's nothing like walking through a sun-drenched farmer's market and picking up a warm fig. The fruit's ripeness can be determined by examining its bottom side, which splits open to reveal a moist, deep-red interior. Remove the stem from the top side, and a sweet and sticky, cream-colored liquid will come oozing out. Yes, vegans definitely have it good.

While a fig is arousing because of its inherent beauty, other foods are enticing due to the manner in which they are consumed. The urgency of melting ice cream, dripping down the cone, begging to be licked up, can put your taste buds and emotions on overload, causing a bit of anxiety along with an intense excitement. Plus, the warmth of a tongue against the cold but pliable surface of the frozen cream is an added bonus. Get ice cream with a love interest and you might learn a few things about that person; everyone handles their ice cream differently, and a close look will provide insight into the ways in which that person may handle your body. Vegetarian fare can be exciting, stimulating, and enlightening.

Great flavor is clearly not the only component of the foods we are drawn to. Texture and aesthetic beauty both play incredibly large roles. Many would claim that raw fish is one of the most visually appetizing delicacies. The slightly opaque red of tuna, the shimmering glow of yellowtail and the orange-pink-cream mosaic of salmon are all wholly unique; these colors exist nowhere else. The wonder doesn't stop there. The melt-in-your mouth, buttery softness of sushi needs no accompaniment. It is the perfect combination of richness and simplicity. The fish rests heavily and coolly against your tongue before your teeth glide effortlessly through it, heightening your awareness of the sushi dissolving in your mouth. It's not hard to see why so many "vegetarians" include fish in their diets.

People often speak about the purity, simplicity, and vitality of vegetables-all things grown in the earth are worthy of such praise. However, the soft, juicy, medium-rare center of a piece of steak is as breathtakingly simple and pure as any carrot. Our ancestors hunted to survive, fighting to quench the same carnal, primal desires that attract people to meat today. There is perhaps no flavor deeper than that of red meat, and there is certainly no food more bodily. Each bite, glistening and dripping with juice, forces the diner to consider his or her own body, grounding that person with each mouthful. The feeling is not ethereal. Instead it is dark, hot and intensely human. Obviously, the carnivores know how to get physical.

The intimate connections between sensuality and food are powerful, magnificent and personal. Of course, a vegetarian and a butcher will most likely not find the same meals appetizing, but that does not mean that one of them is in the wrong. Arousing eating is not dependent on one's culinary persuasion, for as we hope to have shown, sexually appetizing dining spans the full spectrum of food-related lifestyles. There is nothing wrong with claiming that vegetables are sexy, but crowning the vegetarian lifestyle as the sexiest is shallow. It demonstrates gross self-centeredness and an inability to respect one of the most passionate, deep-rooted human desires. How about a separation of the political and the personal? Let's keep our debates vibrant while honoring the preferences of others.

Go get some ice cream with Graham and Maria at [email protected]

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