Sunday, December 14, 2014

Epicurus & The Philosophy of Cooking

As a philosopher who advocated the pursuit of pleasure and avoidance of pain, Epicurus has a lot to teach us about our attitude to food and how we prepare it. He spent his life finding enjoyment in simplicity and the company of his friends, often dining on bread and water. While none of us want to exist on that diet for any length of time, we can take his lessons and apply them to the most mundane of daily tasks – making dinner.

The reality is, the less effort you put into a meal, the better it will taste. If only because the more time you spend with it, the higher the chance is that something will go wrong. Our diets are filled with peasant dishes, like pasta, pizza or stews. Why? Because they’re tasty, healthy, easy to make and the ingredients can vary according to what’s in season.

The best meals are those you can walk away from. Put some ingredients in a pan, and go do something else. Try it. The flavours in your food will develop better if you leave them alone.

Epicurus was a big fan of simple food. He classified pleasure as the absence of pain and let’s face it – long-winded & complicated recipes can often be painful to make. There exists a serious cognitive dissonance in spending four hours to make a meal that you only eat in the space of thirty minutes.

Epicurus also argued against over-indulgence, because that often leads to more pain. Anyone who has woken up after a night on the town knows that you can always have too much of a good thing.

Epicurus was also big on free will. If he were alive today, he would tell you bluntly that you have a choice not to over-complicate your meals and make eating – the most basic instinct in the world – a chore.

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