I have been developing a “food theory of culture” with one of my friends.. A good meal should consist of a variety of foods. Even excellent ingredients will become boring if you rely on just one or two of them all the time. What makes a fine meal is not just fine ingredients and a competent cook but the overall balance between the various ingredients, where the totality is greater than the sum of the parts. You need something salty, something sweet, something spicy and something refreshing. Focusing on each individual component and stating with certainty that “this is the thing that created the success” is a mistake, but a very common one.- - - - - - - - -
As it happens, food is one of the aspects of life where I will concede that Asians often outperform Westerners, and where southern Europeans frequently outperform northern Europeans. There are many Italian restaurants in Britain, but few British restaurants in Italy. There aren’t that many Dutch, Scandinavian or German restaurants in other regions, either, compared to the Chinese, Indian or Thai restaurants you can encounter all around the world.
There are certain minerals and vitamins that are necessary to sustain life. However, it is also possible to get too much of them. Theoretically speaking, you can die from drinking too much water; just because drinking a couple of liters of it per day is healthy does not mean that drinking twenty times as much of it is twenty times as healthy. You could argue that the modern West suffers from a form of cultural malnutrition; we are being force-fed a steady diet of cultural junk food which systematically deprives us of minerals vital to our mental health while we are becoming fat and lazy. At the same time, we digest far too much of some ingredients that can be beneficial in smaller amounts, above all self-criticism and altruism.
Read the rest at the Brussels Journal.