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Saturday, June 15, 2013

My Jihad Against Cute Food v. The Question of Sex

I had a boyfriend once named Mark. We both liked poetry and hiking. We were both from New Jersey and we both had parents who didn't love us. I write and I watch birds. He wrote and he hunted deer. We both had to strategize before, and seek consolation after, any encounter with our parents. That's what we had in common. That's what brought us together.

He was a pool player. He told me one day that his dream was to buy a pool cue that cost over a thousand dollars.

I choked and stared at him.

A great gulf opened between us. I didn't even say anything. He just said, angrily, "I don't think everybody should be poor until everyone on earth is not poor."

I realized, when he said that, that I did think that.

And I realized, wow, not everyone thinks that.

And I realized, wow, morality varies by person.

And I realized, wow, Mark and I are not going to last as a couple.


One of the first things I noticed about Facebook was that people post photos of cute food. Only nice people post photos of cute food. If Ted Bundy had a Facebook account, he would not post photos of cute food.

One of the second things I noticed was that these photos of cute food really irk me.

And the thing is, they're CUTE. I'm getting upset over something that is CUTE.

Cute food. Upsets me. Good grief.

Cute food is probably one of the most harmless, adorable, eager-to-please things you will ever encounter.


Yes I was in Peace Corps in Africa and Asia and yes I did see children die from hunger.

Yeah, well, so what. I've got ice cream in my refrigerator right now.

But I do regard food as sacred.

I have this vow never to throw food away. When Sandy hit in October, 2012, and we lost electricity for almost two weeks, I went into survivalist mode and managed, with prepared ice packs, to keep my food cool and edible that entire time. I did have to throw out two things: lentils and tomatoes. It's an indication of how seriously I take the vow never to throw away food that eight months later I can tell you exactly which food items I had to throw away.

When I make it to the Pearly Gates, St. Peter is going to tell me, "Well, we were going to allow you in to heaven, but in November of 2012, you threw away lentils and tomatoes. Sorry."


Cute food turns food, something sacred, into a visual joke.

Contemplating the time and effort necessary to making cute food drives me nuts.

My first exposure to cute food, and to how much cute food horrifies me, was when my Facebook friend Gale Miko posted a photo of strawberry Santa Clauses. You can see that photo, above.

I cook. I love cooking. I realize how much effort, focus, and concentration it would take to prepare those strawberry Santa Clauses. How steady your hands would have to be. How much energy and attention each strawberry Santa Claus would demand.

Shouldn't you really be spending that time and attention saving the world?


But every time someone posts a new, ever more elaborate cute food photo, that is exactly where my mind goes: Starving children. Never throwing food away. Growing up poor and eating foul tasting – I can still taste it – surplus food the government gave our family – margarine, pasta, white rice. It all tasted as if it had been stored for a hundred years in the back of a greasy mechanic's garage.

I think of the incredible skill and focus it would take to make six layer cakes look like six polo shirts in a stack. And I think, why couldn't they apply that focus to world peace?



I'm a Christian. In "Save Send Delete" I do my best to present why I'm a Christian.

Before I began writing the book, I had a problem.

I knew I wanted to do my best to present the Christian point of view.

But, I knew, there's always been this one problem with my Christianity.

I've never been able to adhere to the party line on sexual sins.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating orgies, bestiality, or pedophilia.

But most of the people I know had sex before they got married. I don't think they will go to hell for that. I don't think being gay is a sin, either.

I can't even understand why any God would want to send people to hell for premarital sex, or for being gay.

Cute food? That’s another matter entirely.


Just to state the obvious. I'm not condemning cute food in this blog post.

Rather I'm thinking about morality.

What's right? What's wrong? Why is it that one person's sin is another person's pleasure?

I am perhaps gaining insight in to people like Robespierre, Torquemada, the Mutaween. People who violently enforce their morality on others in trivial matters like how much hair peeks out from under a woman's veil.

You can see some amazing artwork made from food, including a landscape made from a single cucumber, here.

John Guzlowski writes about what his father ate in Buchenwald here


  1. Love this comment sent in by Sandy McReynolds:

    I think people have an "AHA" moment of one sort or another and then try to recreate it, but maybe then they feel weird unless they can convince others to have that same AHA. Maybe cute food is a different way of "Here is my AHA". Maybe it doesn't lead to world peace, but I haven't spent my neurons building better bombs, which was sort of my career path ( in a sense ) back 50 years ago. Some people have regular sex and regular orgasms, some folks have highly coreographed sex, maybe irregular orgasms, maybe intense moments of intimacy and clarity that aren't exactly sexual, but are definitely AHA.

  2. Never again will I be able to look at a stack of polo shirts or a pair of flip flops without wanting to hurl. Y-U-C-K.

    1. Liron, thank you so much! I've taken so much grief for this blog post!

  3. Danusha,

    I love the way your mind works. Bringing cute food, and salvation in sex in the same post is a unique and enviable talent.

    I am not a fan of food that takes far longer to prepare than it does to eat- so the whole concept of "cute" food is lost on me. As I am now reaching the point when the term "middle age" no longer applies in my life (I don't expect to live to be 118), I have started taking the advice of Health Wonks like the Oprah anointed "Oz the Doctoral" to heart. I prefer to create meals that combine my love of what is not good for me (pancakes) with what I know is good for me (fruit, nuts, cinnamon, etc.) into healthy but challenging concoctions that would never be called "cute," but may be called over-the-top when compared the regular fare of those starving in third world countries or WWII concentration camps.

    Sex? Well... before and after my NDE, when I realized that "sin" is as non-existent as "hell," (our Free Will is part of the evolution of greater consciousness that you might call God), I enjoyed sex freely, and wantonly... not so much "cutely."

    Like pizza...there are no bad orgasms. Just different flavors and densities.

    LOVE your book so far... and YES. I "Googled" you to find this post.