Friday, November 14, 2008

Some food thoughts

There is much for me to discover when pay close attention during my experiences. I have found it very hard to resist eating candy bars out of the vending machines at school. I try not to, since they cost 85 cents and are a part of an unbalanced diet. Buying cheap candy from stores is also ineffective, because it is then available all the time and I usually eat it up too quickly. Today I didn’t bring a lunch and subsequently spent 2.60 on vended items and 2.05 on frozen yogurt. $4.65 is a pretty bad score for what I got. The opposition to this is taking the time to make my own food. If I’m going to take the effort, I put in a little more and end up with toasted homemade bread, meat I prepared toasted cheeses, pickles, olives, and there are plenty of microwaves to warm up what I bring. And overall, its cheaper. To tip things even further, this last candy bar wasn’t even tasty, its strident sweetness and clumsy flavors made me glad to wash it off of my tongue with a bottle of drinking fountain water. So why do I like vending machines? It is the experience, which I need to find a remedy for. Vending machines only draw when I am hungry. They are both conveniently near, but not everywhere on campus, usually I have to go at least half a building or one and a half buildings to get to one. Then I need cash; not carrying any is a good way to make them inaccessible. Money as tokens (as opposed to plastic access cards) have weight, form, unique wear and markings for where and when they are made, so measuring out change is an information packed ritual. (I used to collect coins, and still look at them as items with a historical origin.) Then there is the participatory mechanics of putting the change into the machine, and pressing buttons. As a person who grew up in an age of personal electronics, pressing buttons means access, getting what I want, and having a voice. Button pressing is its own reward. Then the machine responds with a show, humming its motors, clattering the change in with the rest of its take, the spring shelving turns and down falls the brightly printed candy bar. I then get to push open the double flap and hold my prize. Having attained a Butterfingers, I can put it in my coat pocket and walk around until I find a good spot to sit and eat it.

Eating is the most disappointing part, it is not as enjoyable as getting. Afterwards I’m happy to be not-hungry, but other than satisfying a craving for sugar there is nothing else to experience, it all has passed. Perhaps what I need is to find better containers for my lunches. If they had a better experience than plastic tubs and aluminum foil, lunch could then rival the vending machines. Some container of porcelain, metal and enamel, something both functional and artistic, and complicated latches would be nice. Combination locks would be interesting. How about a temperature read out? Such a lunch box would be really striking. To be useful it would have to be a porcelain food dish that a metal lid latched around. The dish would be removable to be microwaved, and since custom made ceramics is beyond my knowledge, it should be a store bought dish. The metal lid could have a rubber gasket to transport wet things. The lid would have a band (links or a metal strip) that goes around the dish to clamp on tightly. The top and or bottom could be inlayed with wood.

Such a device would be limited next to the lightness of ubiquitous plastic, but if you can make such an item, do go for it.

Grady Houger