I love the Travel Channel show, “No Reservations,” hosted by Anthony Bourdain. It’s not a fine dining show, but a food travelogue experience where the host visits places all around the world and eats indigenous, regular-folk foods. He doesn’t visit the “in” places, rather he has locals take him to places food snobs would never visit. He eats food from street vendors, local dives and haunts, and other places that a lot of folks would hesitate to enter, never mind eat in.
I’m jealous of Bourdain because my Achilles Heel is actually an Achilles Stomach; I love to travel but when I travel my stomach can go on the fritz. But that’s another story… When I talk to people about the show I cannot believe how many responses I get that are along the lines of, “Oh I would never eat that stuff. It’s fattening!”
I’ve kind of known this all along, but I really have come to realize that an overwhelming number of Americans are afraid of food. How could you visit Chile and NOT eat all kinds of grilled meats and sausages cooked on a huge open air barbeque in an open air market, or go to Laos and Vietnam and NOT eat the awesome street-vendor foods and drink the local beer, or beg off going on a “Tapas Crawl” (especially with Bourdain) in Barcelona, Spain because you might eat something that’s fattening or “bad” for you. What a bunch of duds Americans have turned into.
Americans have developed the Nocebo Effect when it comes to eating and enjoying great foods. The Nocebo Effect – opposite of the Placebo Effect – occurs when people experience an immediate, negative reaction to a drug or food simply because of pessimism or a negative expectation. Once you are aware of this attitude that people have towards food, you will notice it all around you. Bordain himself revealed this fear last week when he was enjoying a traditional Turkish breakfast and said something along the lines of, “I really shouldn’t be eating this.” C’mon Anthony, don’t fall prey to the awful American-borne syndrome of “Fear of Food.”
You’re a rebel, don’t conform to the line parroted by the no-fun foodies. Perhaps the “French Paradox” is stronger than the American Fear of Food. The French Paradox describes the situation where the French have a low incidence of coronary artery disease despite eating a diet high in saturated fats. Maybe it’s just that the French don’t care and aren’t scared of what they eat. Americans are so terrified of eating something that’s “bad,” the Nocebo Effect has made them unhealthy and no fun to be with and eat around. What good is food if you can’t enjoy it? Watch Bourdain’s “No Reservations,” and take the first step of liberating yourself from the fear of food.