بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
It is as much wonderment as it is frustration that inspires me to pen these thoughts. I think I've always found it peculiar that people critique the taste of food, or while in the midst of savouring a meal, they feel the need to mention the different ways that make it even more personally delectable. I'm surely and regrettably guilty of the same, and I must ask myself why.
Why is it necessary to dedicate thoughts, words, and conversations to achieving optimal personal tastes which are not really going to change the meal before us? I suppose optimal tastes makes people happy, despite the limited ability in reaching it after the meal is prepared. Can't the range of what is "really tasty" be broader? I suppose everyone has different tastes and people aren't hungry enough to simply enjoy meals without a word about how it missed the 100% mark -- because 99% is still not 100%.
I think, though, that it is a lost virtue to eat without critiquing food, honestly. We live in a world, at least one side of the world, where critiquing food is part of our entertainment spectrum wherein contestants will win if their culinary conquests meet the approval of judges. We live in a world where it is commonplace to deliberately leave food in our plates knowing very well that it is destined for the garbage. We live in a world where we don't now how to tolerate the things we don't like or can't seem to appreciate. It smells like a foul type of world to live in.
And yet in other parts of the world, children pick up breadcrumbs covered in rubble from fallen buildings and parents know not what to do as their children cry in hunger. For some, the hunger is unbearable, and for others, patience is their constant companion.
We live in a world where it is fashionable to eat "healthy foods" but it pushes us to be intensely selective in what we eat such that we may just miss the point of food itself.
Food, as I see it, is not a life purpose. It's not a goal, an ambition, nor an end. It just keeps the body ticking. I'm all for wholesome food, but I oppose hyper-selectivity that allows us to turn away good food because it doesn't meet our standards of "optimally healthy."
Each their own. I suppose my opinions on the extremes in food preferences and eating are negligible. So I ask myself, what of the Prophet Muhammad, salla Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam, and his eating habits? What of the sahabas? What does divine guidance tell us about approaching and managing food and eating?
These questions need answers and actions that follow accordingly, bi ithni Allah. May Allah guide us all to what is most pleasing to Him and beneficial, ameen.
حَدَّثَنَا هِشَامُ بْنُ عَبْدِ الْمَلِكِ الْحِمْصِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ حَرْبٍ، حَدَّثَتْنِي أُمِّي، عَنْ أُمِّهَا، أَنَّهَا سَمِعَتِ الْمِقْدَامَ بْنَ مَعْدِيكَرِبَ، يَقُولُ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ يَقُولُ " مَا مَلأَ آدَمِيٌّ وِعَاءً شَرًّا مِنْ بَطْنٍ حَسْبُ الآدَمِيِّ لُقَيْمَاتٌ يُقِمْنَ صُلْبَهُ فَإِنْ غَلَبَتِ الآدَمِيَّ نَفْسُهُ فَثُلُثٌ لِلطَّعَامِ وَثُلُثٌ لِلشَّرَابِ وَثُلُثٌ لِلنَّفَسِ " .
Miqdam bin Ma'dikarib said:“I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say: ‘A human being fills no worse vessel than his stomach. It is sufficient for a human being to eat a few mouthfuls to keep his spine straight. But if he must (fill it), then one third of food, one third for drink, and one third for air.’” [Ibn Majah]
Riyadh Al Saliheen: The Book of the Etiquette of Eating