The big story here is still the big story. Struggling to make sens, and come up with some appropriate tribute, but it's difficult, as my mom's influence on what I know about cooking and eating is so pervasive that it's hard to indicate where she leaves off and I begin.
But, something completely different as I recharge in a quiet corner of the Philly convention center as the English Professor Rodeo gets underway. Specifically, the not safe for work website, "if you can't stand the heat" which is NSFW, and something you should not look at while you are at work, consists of naked people in kitchens. A lot naked. Now, I don't know what sort of niche this fulfills, but someone, at least, is taking the time to sift through lots of pictures of naked people to find ones that are taken in kitchens. (Alternatively, someone is looking through pictures of kitchens to find ones with naked people in them, but that seems like more work.) Presumably, said person would not bother if there were not some call for pictures of naked people in kitchens. Even a few years ago, it would have been hard to gratify this impulse, but digital media permits a certain balkanization of appetites that print media did not. In the olden days, the fan of kitchen nudes would have to imagine the icebox next to Betty Grable.
The somewhat tenuous connection to food is that we seem to be allowing the same thing to happen with other appetites. Increasingly, it seems as if the idea of a communal meal has given way to a family member designated with the role of short order cook, who cooks individual meals for individual family members, subject to the whims of their appetites and schedules. It's debatable if we lose much living in a world where there are niches like "if you can't stand the heat" rather than a mass thrall to Farrah Fawcett and a beachball, but it does me sad to think of the days of the take it or leave it family supper giving way to niche meals. Yes, eating and looking are two kinds of appetite, and the looking here is problematic in any number of ways, but I wonder if they share some common root in the fragmentation of appetites.