A take away point for people who read this blog:
I remember one meal—I was a heavy vegetarian at the time, and I was invited to do an interview, which included a meal at High Table. All these Oxford types sitting there telling me how ridiculous vegetarianism is. And I write about it, and I am one! It was like being eviscerated by intelligent insects. They are in eternal attack mode. In the USA I realized that some humans had endoskeletons and soft skin, as it were. Now when I go back I feel like Gulliver among the Lilliputians—“Why are you stinging me? That's really annoying! Do you think you're being clever? What is that?” Schivelbusch was important but it was also a lot of Deleuze and Guattari combined with Braudel. When you look at capitalism as forces of deterritorialization and reterritorialization you start to see food not simply as symbolic or “meaningful” or whatever but as an actual material substance that circulates around. I was also fascinated by Žižek as he had just produced The Sublime Object of Ideology, and it seemed to me that food directly was ideology. In other words, a McDonalds Happy Meal doesn't signify comfort: it is comfort, directly. “The Truth Is Out There.” This was very clear to me and very boring for everyone else, who wanted food to fill the gap left by the “death of the Author.” University of California Press flat refused to publish my stuff because it had philosophy in it—that was their actual stated reason! They wanted to replace The Fascinating Story of Charles Dickens with The Fascinating Story of the Potato. Kind of like that movie The Red Violin. After a while I stopped writing about food because I just ran into a lot of walls with my demystification approach. Instead, I started writing about ecology. Vegetarianism is obviously about ecology and all food involves thinking about ecological stuff. That was woven quite explicitly into the first projects.