Friday, June 10, 2016

Words and food match-ups

I stumbled across this proverb when I was flipping through my Bible recently.

Proverbs 26: 22 - The words of a gossip are like tasty bits of food; people like to gobble them up.

I was surprised at the apt analogy, especially considering that when King Solomon wrote those words, the world was thousands of years away from the junk food era we know so well today. Indulging in words of gossip is exactly like digging into a bag of jubes, licorice all-sorts or potato chips left out on a table. In the recklessness of the moment we enjoy the tastiness of them, even though we know they're a bit 'naughty'. But after scoffing a whole bag, we wind up feeling guilty and sick to the stomach. The pleasure they bring us is just empty calories, which turn out to have no morsel of goodness in them. Some of these treats don't even have anything real in them at all, but just appealing colours and chemicals.

Since that made such a lot of sense, I wanted to see if I could think of any more. It was fairly easy, since the words we use and the food we eat have essential features in common. Food sustains the physical body, and words, whether written or spoken, do the exact same thing for our spirits and souls. So here's what I came up with when I tried to make my own similar proverbs.

Some sermons, lectures, personal development or how-to books are shoved down our throats.

Okay, these are a bit like meals cooked with dry lentils, tofu, kale or other 'superfoods' which leave a lot to be desired when it comes to flavour. They are also like the sorts of recipes I often see flash up on Facebook. 'Feed your kids these healthier options and they won't even know the difference,' we're told. I can tell you, they know the difference alright. I remember making a batch of sugar-free, gluten-free sweet potato and beetroot brownies which even I couldn't eat, they were so bland and stodgy. Most of them ended up in the bin. Parsnip and pumpkin au gratin didn't cut it as a vegetarian option with my family either. So the dry old books I'm thinking of fall into this category. We're told they're good for us, but we really don't fancy going back for more.We get tempted to move on to satisfy our tastebuds with something else instead, to make up for the experience.

Encouraging quotations which have stood the test of time are a refreshing treat when we need one.

I think these are like a nice, cool swig of water when you're on a hike. Maybe it's from a flowing creek you stumble upon when you really need one. There could be an element of surprise and serendipity which makes it all the more refreshing. A handful of trail mix or a quick muesli bar may also do the trick. These can make a huge difference in giving us an extra boost of energy to push on with. 'It felt like I couldn't move another step, but now I'm refreshed enough to lift my head and keep going.' That's the effect a good quote may have on our daily grind.

Purposeful study may be good soul food, but not necessarily easy to take on board.

I'm thinking of the blocks of study we all choose to apply ourselves to from time to time. It may be coursework from text books, or ancient literary classics, or religious treatises. Making an intention to sit down with our notebooks and stick with it is a bit like chopping up a fruit salad, or making a soup from scratch with fresh vegetables. It may seem easier not to go to the effort of preparing it all, but we choose to do it anyway because we know the benefits will be worth it. And then these sorts of books and meals have the potential to be even more fresh and delicious than we expected.

Stories which rely on shock, in-your-face elements such as unnecessary gore, brutality and sadness can make us sick to the stomach.

I've found some of these to be the emotional equivalent of food poisoning. That's all I can say.

Novels with excellent characters and fascinating plots are like a banquet.

There is plenty for everyone within the pages. I've read foreign stories which are like intriguing, ethnic delicacies. Romances can deliver the emotional punch of good quality champagne and chocolate cake. Comic moments are like the unexpected bursts of popcorn in a frying pan. Well planned mysteries remind me of the most delicious fruitcakes, with fillings we don't expect. And lovely descriptions, which authors have worked hard on, can be like silky custard, hot chocolate or well-aged, vintage cheeses. No wonder so many of us keep coming back to books.

Please feel free to leave a comment, or another analogy if you think of one. 

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