Standard Pages (they don't change often)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Fear? Or Loathing?

For Cinco de Mayo, Houston food truck HTown StrEATS is offering something they call "A Feast for the Brave". The idea is to offer items consisting of exotica like alligator, crickets and scorpions. I can understand the need for bravery if the diners had to subdue the animals prior to eating them (well, maybe not the crickets) but I am certain they'll be offered filleted, chopped, cooked, wrapped in a tortilla. And well, dead. From what I can tell, it takes very little courage to bite into that.

Why is there such an emphasis on fear in a lot of dining? The television show Fear Factor regularly challenged the contestants with things like pidan and deer penises, but not really the Russian Roulette risks of casu marzu or amateur fugu cooking. Hell, there's more risk in eating shisito peppers, which have the occasional spicy specimen looking identical to the milder brethren.

Westernized balut eating at Moneycat Brunch. Prepended by a beer.
For some, the very thought of eating something with a head and eyes still attached is reason to be fearful. Or maybe fermented products like kimchi or bagoong, although, paradoxically, mildly toxic wine and spirits are celebrated. And in fact, some consider it their liquid source of courage.

But I think what people consider "fear" is really tapping into the primal expression of disgust. Disgust, as a primal emotion, taps into the reptile brain, and that instinctive drive for evolutionary survival. Indeed, many of the things that disgust us - feces, decay, death - are linked to things that are likely to sicken a consumer. And its a insidious genius of marketing that can link keywords tapping into emotional disgust - slime, for example - to subvert logical discussion with emotional response.

No comments:

Post a Comment