A week of food preferences
Disclaimer - My un-healthy relationship with food
I admit that, when we decided to ‘survey’ our food preferences, I felt a little bit troubled and anxious: I always had a strange relationship with food and bizzarre food habits.
My mom (love you mom!) wasn't really a good cook and really didn't like to cook, and because of that I probably absorbed this sensation that it was just normal and even better to eat not-cooked meals.
So I don’t cook either (shame on me!).
I am also very picky, and obsessive, and I always eat the same things: I’d say that my eating habits are very limited and there are a lot of foods that I dislike or simply don’t eat.
I don't like pasta and many other things that most Italians love, I don't eat vegetables and fruits at all, I mean they are pretty joyless to me (...still my blood tests are magically perfect!?), I eat meat and fish but only with sauces on top of them or if they are somehow fried.
Moreover, I honestly get pretty nervous if I have a whole dish to finish before of me, especially if it is all made by the same variety: I’d better eat the same quantity of food by picking it from small and scattered containers (I love buffets!) and by composing my meal of various things.
I love sharing small plates with people, I love appetizers, I love ‘picking’ rather than properly eating.
Well then, I don’t like to have lunch (i.e. I never ate lunch), I’d rather have big breakfast, snacks every now and then during the day, and a big dinner, …and snacks before going to bed :(.
I am pretty rigid about it all, actually.
Sometimes I am surprised about how much my friends and my boyfriend bear with me (even if they all make fun of this thing I have, of course!), ...but what would Stefanie (and other people!) think about my childish way of eating?
The data collection
I decided to survey my mind just once during the week, scrutinizing “foods that I love” and “food that I hate” (the ones that I really cannot stand), and I decided that - since this is part of the game - I needed to be 100% honest and I won’t censor anything from my list.
After all, even if I don’t fit into any conventional category as a eater, this is who I am!
I sat down with a white paper and a pen at 7.00 o’clock that evening before having dinner (so I was definitely hungry!), I stopped for a moment, cleared my mind and just started jotting down all of the "foods that I love" in the exact order they came to my mind. I gave myself not more than 10 minutes for this exercise: I certainly didn't want to overthink it on the first round. I then repeated the same performance asking myself what are the foods that really disgust me.
After dinner, I went through my lists with my boyfriend and I allowed ourselves to add other elements that came to mind, inserting them where they would best fit on the rankings, but without changing any of the original positions.
The data drawing
It wasn’t very easy to come up with a clever categorization for this week’s data, I tried to start my classification from what the overall list was telling me: of course, looking at my final inventory, I saw that the most of my beloved foods can’t even be described as food-food :/
….dipping sauces, candies, fried stuff, small things you would eat with your hands or out of the box, unhealthy food!!
So I tried to be creative and play with it, and I also wanted to keep a bit of a mystery and make a guess game for Stefanie!
My data drawing features two opposite parts for food I love and food I hate, and every element is a line:
the line type is the main ingredient (cheese, chocolate, bread kind, candy and so on…), the line color is the flavour of the food as I perceive it (bitter, spicy, greasy, salty, etc.), the line length is the amount of calories per 100 g (I had to look up for each single elements, since I admit I am totally ignorant about nutrition!), and I added a little colored scribble to represent the actual color of the food.
I also added some attributes about the way you would eat it and some other notes; and a tiny symbol to help identify wether my element is a single ingredient (e.g. cinnamon, salt, lettuce), a cooked dish or a very specific one (e.g. Oreo Cookies! Mozzarella sticks!) or a general food (e.g. milk chocolate, seasoned cheese…)
I also included a small cross to indicate whether I had it in the 7 days before my survey.
Of course, my foods are ordered in the exact way they came to my mind, to highlight my emotional tendency toward them.
(This is maybe my most over detailed postcard ever!! Sorry Stef!)
Things I LOVE :
blue cheese sauce / mayo / pink sauce / smoked salmon / seasoned cheese / cheese fondue / fries! / chili fries with cheese! / deep dish pizza! / haribo candies / salt liquorice / milk chocolate - lindor most of all / white chocolate - lindor most of all / whipped cream / cheesecake / yogurt cake! / salted milk chocolate / dulce de leche / white nut cream / pastries of any kind! / oreo ! / italian biscotti RINGO / italian biscotti Cuor di Mela / Onion flavored Kim's magic Pops / Roasted Onion flavored Kim's magic Pops / Potato flavored Kim's magic Pop / soy sauce / crab cakes/ lo mein / lobster roll / clam chowder / pizza / focaccia (if greasy!) / bread with raisins (but no cinnamon!!) / bread / focaccia with olives and -or onions / sardines / salt / mozzarella sticks / marinara sauce / roasted potatoes / potatoes of any kind / roasted tomatoes / seafood mac and cheese / hummus! / mushrooms / shrimps / burger with cheese / Grilled cheese / Leffe beer / Bronx Pale Ale beer / Pedro Xymenez wine / Yellow Tail chardonnay / milk / coffee / peach tea.
Things I can’t stand :
cinnamon / cilantro / ham’s fat ! / artichokes (suggested by boyfriend) / goat cheese (suggested by boyfriend) / animals’ offals / pate’ / lamb, deer, … wild meat ! / pasta with tomato sauce (suggested by boyfriend) / tofu /oranges / lettuce / eggplants / wasabi / mustard / coconut / oysters / red pepper (suggested by boyfriend) / egg yolk / almond / rare meat / raw meat (suggested by boyfriend) / boiled meat (suggested by boyfriend) / dark chocolate / mint (any kind of!) / spicy food (any kind of!) / pickles (suggested by boyfriend) / snails (suggested by boyfriend)
Well Stef, I guess you will never go out to dinner with me after this week?
I want to eat Stefanie’s postcard!!
Those little triangles remind me of my favorite jelly-candies of my childhood!! Without doubt she is an healthier person than I am (as if there were any doubts).
After a conversation where we were both discussing how much we loved Haribo gummy sweets (the absolute best thing ever!), we decided to learn more about each other through creating a survey of our food and flavour preferences.
I found this week to be a bit of a challenge, mainly because a flavour preference dataset is not a naturally-defined dataset to work with here, but instead you have to craft it on you own, which feels slightly too arbitrary, in a way. To combat this I decided to take a pre-made dataset as a starting point, analysing my opinion of all the flavours found in The Flavour Thesaurus, though I did end up adapting this dataset slightly.
I think the reason that I found the data-gathering frustrating this week was that I’ve realised that my favourite part of the project is how where we are lifting data textures from the world to draw instead of shaping them ourselves. I think this interest might also be why Giorgia and I gather such different datasets, and mine are often less detailed: Generally, I just want to gather data from the world and that's it: I just want to capture this texture through creating a system of gathering this data, and setting this system running and then seeing what happens at the end.
However, to me it seems that Giorgia will often incorporate data-gathering on her own feelings and reflections into her dataset, or her hand and personality are more evident in her data-gathering.
What I’ve finally realised is I think the difference in how we both frame the data-gathering is that don't like to have that much of a hand in the data: I like to be on the outside, function as a sort of ‘observing machine’ who is counting what the world sends my way. (Giorgia, you'll have to let me know whether I'm getting it right here, or not!)
This was a useful week in helping me realise that most of the foods that I dislike are foods that I first really ate in Britain or in Europe. When I was young, I was a fussy eater, though as I’ve grown up I’ve begun to eat most of the foods that I didn’t like when I was young, even if I don’t totally love these flavours.
However, I’ve noticed that since I’ve lived in the UK I am keenly aware that people think that I’m incredibly picky in regards to food, and this is something that I can find particularly stressful in regards to going over to other people’s houses for dinner.
Before going to someones for dinner I have to explicitly state that there are certain foods that I just cannot pretend to enjoy for the sake of being polite, no matter how hard I try. These foods include paté, blood sausage, or any sort of offal in general, smoked strong-smelling fish like kippers and mackerel, fish roe, or extreme shellfish (oysters) or small fish (whitebait) that you swallow whole (all disgusting). The reason I have to mention these foods is that these are invariably the strange foods that are always served at a dinner party, and this has always baffled me.
I mean, why would you serve such strong-flavoured foods at a dinner party, if there’s a chance that someone might not like these foods? I’ve never understood this, as I would never serve these foods: they seem too much of an acquired taste to me.
Then, it finally dawned on me: people serve these foods at dinner parties because they assume that the flavours are standard across everyone's palates, and that everyone actually *likes* these flavours in the UK. (Crazy, I know. It took me a little while to actually get my head around liking these awful foods as well)
Of course! I didn’t come across these sorts of flavours growing up in Colorado, hence why I don’t like them: these are flavours I just haven’t been raised with. In my data I highlighted the flavours/foods that I first really only tasted when coming to Britain, and it’s evident that these are the foods that I generally like the least.
Finally, I have figured out why everyone in the UK thinks I'm so picky: it's not me, it's them (and their super-gross British food)!
This drawing is so boring! There's no point in even discussing it: I didn’t have much time to draw this week so I tried to be as efficient as possible, and just drew the card in no time at all. I don’t mind the triangles; the triangles are the only interesting part of this card.
I love Giorgia’s card because it’s a nice contrast to mine in that it’s so detailed, and beautifully-drawn; this is another card that highlights her amazing skills at weekly data-gathering. And while I find it’s reassuring that we both like sweets and chocolates and the like, and both hate offal (obviously), I’m amazed that Giorgia dislikes both spicy flavours and doesn’t seem to really be into vegetables (and no pickles? noooo), as both of which are some of my favourite foods! Madness. Next time we meet in person I have a feeling we will both be scrutinising each other’s order at a restaurant more closely than we would otherwise.
A final note after reading Giorgia's post: Giorgia, since you love salt liquorice ALL IS FORGIVEN.