It seems bizarre that, when food is such an essentially great thing, we are told having less of it will make us happy. The lifestyle obsession with “diets”, and of imposing specific restrictions on our food consumption, is often presented as the only way of improving personal well-being. This is all perfectly acceptable, and sensible dietary practices are to be commended, but it is misguided that such restrictions are the only beneficial possibilities to arise from our relationship with food.
The other common practices are to give recipes, or to promote the value of certain foodstuffs, yet neither of these is obviously related to happiness – they are far too pragmatic for that.There is an unexplored potential in “food therapy”, in embracing food and finding pleasure from it. In such a hectic environment as Oxford, shopping can feel like an aggravating necessity, but if indulged in properly can become a period of relaxation in your day.
Rather than doing a Schumacher with the trolley, a slow perusal of the options can turn a chore into a pleasure, and in buying the occasional top-brand item, nice food becomes satisfying retail therapy. And what to do with these gourmet luxuries? The act of cooking, for all students, is an extension of their usual working practices, but without that key judgmental element. For arts students, it involves that same spontaneous creation as an essay (hopefully) does, and for scientists, a similar evaluation of set elements in order to arrive at a variable outcome.
The pleasure comes from the ability to indulge in the dish, regardless of its objective quality; few people will tell you that your dish is bad, and no-one will be in a position of authority to do so. Even if your soufflé (ambitious) doesn’t rise, you can always try again, but no-one’s going to let you rewrite your essay.
Finally, what is often overlooked by writers is that, for the modest amongst us, indulging in food is a harmless temporary thrill of immorality. There are no painful repercussions in a lemon tiramisu, which seems a pretty great alternative if you don’t fancy drinking vodka out of a sock while getting off with your college brother, or something like that. No-one’s going to be reminding you about dessert the morning after.