Our Desk | Is food a personal preference?

Anthony Lam

This question crossed my mind when I came across this social media post debating about food the other day.
Memory is vague now but I still have that image in my mind depicting a rather famous person, whose name I no longer remember. The caption of the image explained that the person was trying out 15 types of British food. It was a hyperlink to a video, as far as I can remember, which I didn’t click on.
The comments below the post made me believe that the person had tried out food items such as stargazer pie, haggis, and jellied eels. If you don’t know yet what they are, stargazer pie has several fish sticking out of the peripheral of the pie at a vertical angle with their (dead) heads up. The pie got its name because the fish are like looking at the starry sky. For the other two, please google them.
Moving on, those social media users started to complain about the uniqueness, if not weirdness, of British cuisine.
There are some less extraordinary dishes in the cuisine, of course, such as bangers and mash, fish and chips, and the globally renowned full English breakfast.
The trio didn’t calm those users down, however, for at least one of them said that all three of the national dishes are made with unhealthy ingredients. The breakfast is remarkably concerning, as it consists of numerous preserved or greasy food items, such as black pudding, bacon, hash browns, and baked beans.
Well, I’m rather unconvinced with the last one, as in my understanding baked beans can be self-made, although it can be considerably time consuming. Frying bacon and deep-frying hash browns – my apologies – are beyond my skills to defend.
I missed the post and didn’t get a further grasp of their discussion. Even so, the post (so far that I could remember) still lingers around and has prompted me to think whether food can really be defined as good or bad. And if it can, what criteria should we employ?
Should the nutritionist’s perspective prevail, many cuisines shall also be considered “bad food.” The hard chili in Thai cuisine can be tough on the stomach. The roasting method in Cantonese cuisine and the smoking process in many western cuisines can also be harmful to a person’s health.
Otherwise, if taste is concerned, I personally won’t deny that bangers and mash are appealing. What about cooking skills? Some superior ingredients, such as fresh abalone and lobster, don’t really need much of those. Indeed, they can taste superbly wonderful by merely being poached.
After thinking for several days and nights, I still can’t get over that internal debate. I couldn’t help but think, after all these years falling in love with mesmerizing food, what makes my dish good?
Talking about that, on Facebook particularly, there have been several populous groups advertising exceptional restaurants while others condemn miserable ones. Like horseracing tips, the same restaurant may appear in either type of groups.
Then I started to think probably it’s a personal matter to consider what food is great and what is not. It may rely heavily on the background of a person. Our grandparents, who grew up during the wartime, may have a lower bar than us when it comes to good food.
Luckily, I have a grandma who is ethnic Chinese and likes western food as much as Cantonese. One person’s meat is another’s poison, after all.

Categories Opinion