vous êtes ce que vous avez mangé

by jemma margaret

On Sunday around noon I went to the Musée Cernuschi, it’s the city museum of Asian (mostly Chinese) art located next to the extraordinarily picturesque Parc Monceau in the 8th (full of slow joggers, as is customary on Sundays in Paris parks). Since it was lunch time and think I am nearly always thinking about food, I was most drawn to a collection of very old metal cooking vessels. To my untrained eye they looked more of less homogeneous, but the descriptions revealed that in fact some were for meat, some for cereal, and some for fermented drinks. The very precise classification impressed me.

Food anthropology is a mighty interesting topic as witnessed by this somewhat gruesome and utterly fascinating New York Times article. I am not so much referring to the early American cannibalism (it’s okay, they didn’t kill other Europeans they just dug up dead bodies), as much as the fact that isotopes in a 400 year old skeleton reveal a diet with ample protein and high in barley. Science, wow.

Ira Flatow recently interviewed Michael Pollan about his new book Cooked. They talked about the trillions of microbes that live in your body. Trillions! That’s 12 zeroes. I was particularly excited because microbes like to eat what I like to eat: sourdough bread, raw milk cheese, pickles, fruits, vegetables, and fermented beverages (in my case wine and beer, not sure what the ancient Chinese were enjoying).

So remember you are not just eating for yourself, you are also eating for trillions of living organisms and dozens of future anthropologists (hmm, it appears this human subsisted off of butter fried butterflies).