Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Food Fearless

Yesterday was the gap day between my last day of high school and my final exams, which meant that it was a day devoid of any formal plans, an occurrence otherwise known as the best kind of day ever. If you are a fan of technicality, and I suppose that I am, then I guess that it was also the first day of my summer vacation, since all academic obligations had been accounted for up until that point. I decided that this day was an excellent opportunity to heed my call of duty as a dedicated Seventeen reader by partaking in one of the activities mentioned on the magazine's "17 Things You Need to Do This Summer!" list. Number 15, engaging in a food-fearless taste test, seemed like something worth making a day out of. Then again, I may have just been excited by the fact that a magazine targeted towards women was actually encouraging me to eat something, a welcome foil to the usual dieting advice that ladymags are all too happy to push.
I had some errands to run in Philadelphia, so I ended up hopping a train to the city, where I figured I could be food-fearless more cheaply than I could here in the suburbs. Once you stray too far north of Philadelphia, the result tends to be such that financing a decent Indian meal requires a second mortgage on your home and the sale of an organ, infant, or both. Thus, its not often that I get to eat Indian food.

I arrived in the city around noon and pursued lunch at Reading Terminal Market, a public marketplace in center city Philadelphia that falls somewhere between Epcot and street vendor on the spectrum of authentic marketplaces. Don't get me wrong-- the taste and variety of food is fantastic-- but Reading Terminal is uncharacteristically pristine for Philadelphia, a trait that I find somewhat unsettling.

Anyhow, the food was pretty good at Nanee's Kitchen, the Indian counter at which I ended up dining. When I go to restaurants where I don't know what I like, I tend to ask what the house specialty is-- in this case it was the vegetarian plate. Some of the foods were sweet, some were spicy. I'm not a picky eater, but I seemed to have missed the part of eating Indian food that was supposed strike fear in my heart. Seventeen's food-fearless reccomendation was obviously praiseworthy in encouraging girls to try new things, especially things of the food variety, but it would have been nice to see the suggestion presented in a light that didn't cast a negative shadow of fear on eating or make the previous experiences of girls seem so limited. After all, some girls may have eaten Indian food before, or might actually, gasp, be Indian.

On a tangent note, I'm not the first to notice the bizarre conflation of emotion and morality with food. Desserts are frequently described as sinfully sweet. Chocolate is a guilty pleasure. Waiters tell you to "be bad" and go ahead and order dessert. I could have sworn I read a post on this over at Sociological Images, or maybe it was Jezebel, but I can't seem to find anything right now. I would like to link to this post if I can. Anyone know what I'm talking about?
Edit: Commenter LiberalElitist15 found the Jezebel article here. It's as great as I remembered.
For my day out, I accessorized my favorite (vintage) floaty dress, with a fun vintage sash belt, both inspired by Katy Perry. Unfortunately, my arm and Indian food platter are obscuring your view of the outfit. An article with pictures of this outfit will run eventually in the Philadelphia Inquirer, so I'll steal their pictures once that goes up.

Overall the day was pleasant, but not any more so than the day-to-day fun that I plan for myself.