Discomfort food uses recipe ingredients to communicate the extreme consequences of elite government policies fed by corporate interests that are gutting the earth and creating refugees of lifestyle wars. Domestic and foreign policies that use hollow words like democracy, women’s rights, green, clean and renewable are simply euphemistic excuses for maintaining the status quo of comfort, and privilege — a certain lifestyle that those of us with democracy on our side take for granted to varying degrees.
To deviate from that would mean upsetting the apple cart, so to speak. And so we hold on to our precious groceries, water, stovetops, fridges, electricity, for just a little bit longer.
These recipes use as media, measurements, textures and mouth-feel of food and non-food items that are topic-specific. In the process, perhaps, creating new food memories and associations. For instance, a recipe might include intentionally rotting onions to relay the predicament of farmers in India, where unseasonal rains or drought can result in damaged crops or shortage and inflation respectively. The end result? The farmer, as always, suffers disproportionately to other entities in the chain of farming, processing (or the lack of it), distribution and consumption.
The two key ingredients in discomfort food are a pound of capitalism and a pinch of democracy. Upsetting this unjust, imbalanced and food insecurity-saturated apple cart by inviting discomfort into our kitchens and dinner table conversations might be another way to approach the existential threat of an earth occupied by an extractive, exploitative, all-too-comfortable set of humans.
There’s more to it than the creation of the recipes and production of the food; maybe more important is the discussion that follows…