What a Cartoon Mouse Taught me About Food

Posted: April 13, 2011 in Food Adventures
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Meet Remy, aka “Little Chef”, the star of Disney’s Ratatouille. Remy has played a very powerful role in my culinary education and experience.

In an alley, Remy leaves his brother Emile and goes into the kitchen pantry to find a late night snack. He returns to see his brother scavenging and eating garbage. “No no no,” he scolds, “spit that out!” He goes on to instruct Emile how to eat. His instruction is completely disregarded as his brother, unable to control himself, takes an entire piece of cheese and inhales it. “No no no,” Remy scolds again, “don’t just hork it down!”

Don’t just hork it down? What an interesting idea. After watching this scene, I began to wonder about my own eating habits. Do I hork food? Did I pile mounds in at a time, never stopping to think about what I’m eating or enjoying the taste? Was I missing out?

With a little reflection, I realized that I was not and had never been a patient eater. For years, food was fuel and nothing more. Sure food tasted good, but not good enough to sit for longer than it took to consume.

Remy introduces this concept to his brother by bringing him a piece of cheese, salty and sweet with a nutty finish (my guess is reblochon, a French cheese). He pairs this with a strawberry. I went to the grocery and bought some strawberries and brie (reblochon cannot be imported from France) and forced myself to sit and enjoy the food. It may be ironic that I had to force myself to enjoy something, but I come from a long line of horkers. Horking is in my genes. I took a dab of cheese and placed it on my tongue, trying to distinquish the complex flavor held within. It took a few minutes, but eventually I was able to convince myself that brie tasted like something more than cheese. I did the same with the strawberry, focusing on the tanginess of the fruit and the sweetness hidden within. When eating the fruit and cheese together, flavors emerged that could never exist alone. As the bouquet of flavor evolved, it slowly began to subside. There was no sudden crash of flavor that keeps horkers horking; just a mellow hint of flavor taking a bow.

Skiers ski, dancers dance, parents parent, knitters knit, and they do this as often as possible because it gives them purpose. If we work to live, there has to be some payoff.  I have been working since I was 13, but never did anything with my funds that I really enjoyed. I bought some stuff, went to movies, paid bills – normal stuff. But none of it was ever a passion, a deep yearning to do it all the time. I was floundering to find my place in the world. It’s amusing now to realize that, quite literally, the answer was in front of my nose all along.

In thirty seconds of film, Disney was able to completely transform my perspective of an everyday occurrence by using a cartoon mouse and his garbage eating brother, to my passion. I identified with Remy despite our obvious differences. Remy lived for the experience that accompanies food. Now so do I.

Eaters eat, diners dine, cooks cook. Hi, my name is a Keith. I’m a foodie.

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For further reading on doing one thing at a time in order to enjoy life to its fullest, I highly suggest you read this post by Dr. Gerald Stein. His wisdom is beyond valuable.

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