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Mastering the Mundane
Modern Food Issues
A Gourmands Diary.
About Gastromancer.com and Jason Ryan
When we eat we unmake the world and remake it as ourselves. This is an
awesome event that has no parallel in human experience. In no other
tightly with ourselves as when we eat, but unlike the air we breathe, our
food is a matter of choice and it cannot be denied that we humans have
brought the full measure of our incredible imaginations to bear on those
choices. For me the study of gastronomy is therefore the study of the
history, variability and vitality of human imagination as it is applied to the
edible world that surrounds us. The goal of food-study is to arrive at a
better understanding of who we define ourselves to be based on the food
choices we make.

The need to eat is our most mundane impulse, a chemical signal from our
body that tells us when it is in need of energy and repair. It is a universal
experience.  While some people respond mundanely to this mundane
impulse, others address their most basic need in a truly spectacular
fashion! Those who master the mundane transform food into art, religion,
science, philosophy, you name it. Exploring that variation may well take a
lifetime for a meal is the nexus where all of our thoughts and feelings
about the world and our place in it are transformed into concrete action.
Whether we are thoughtless or thoughtful eaters, how we choose
consume the world betrays our deepest feelings about it. Our meals are
cultural artifacts that tell others about us. As Brillant-Savarin said almost
two hundred years ago “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you

While traditions are great fun to explore there are forward-looking food
issues to address as well...

Consider for a moment the current struggle between modern science,
which can now modify the genes of the things we eat, and our spirit which
rebels against the perceived hubris of genetically crossing a tomato with a
fish. Reading about this issue, listening to the ebb and flow of the
arguments taking place in the world's press, convinces me that food still
has a deep cultural connection to us and that modern people all across
the planet still look at food in a fundamentally mystical way. They intuit
that genetically modified foods will have a certain spiritual impact on their
lives and struggle, in a secular (scientific) world, to comprehend what that
might be.

What are the food choices we make saying about our relationship with
our surroundings? What is the nature of the nexus between our bodies
and our world?

I wish to be a party to and inspire both historical and forward-looking
discussions.  To that end I have begun this website.  I hope that in these
pages I might share with you the results of my efforts to explore the
historic, cultural, moral, and philosophical relationships that people have
with food such that we all come to have a richer experience at the table.
You will not find a bunch of recipes at gastromancer.com but you will find
commentary, links, experiments, personal reflections, and essays all
striving to address the many facets of a single question; 'how does our
food define who we are?'.

If you happen to stumble across a nugget of information on gastromancer.
com that resonates or intrigues you, let me know. If you have any
questions regarding the site or anything food related, please contact me.
I am interested to learn more about the cultural issues that are important
to you.

Thanks for visiting! I hope you enjoy the site.