We have free will, but we are strictly bound to the rules of genetics, the family, society and historical conditions we are born into. Preferences that we think we make freely are not ours at all. For example, our food culture and even our taste buds are much more related to the environment we live in, rather than our own preferences. We are pretending to be just as free while making preferences.
The connection of eating cultures to social conditions is a topic that many scientists have frequently focused on. One trademark of the post-modern society that we live in is fast food. Many analyses have been made on the basis of this outlook. George Ritzer's "The McDonaldization of Society" has become our bedside book; the McDonaldization has become the metaphor that we most frequently refer to in order to describe our experiences. “McDonalds is no longer a fast food brand. Inspired by the model of the concentration camp, it is the name of a social, economic and cultural system that confines the whole world in 'the iron cage of rationality.'”
This finding is very important, but insufficient. In fact, even what we experience in our eating culture alone far exceeds the dimensions of the concept of the McDonaldization. There is a tremendous change in our relations with eating and food. In order to understand this change, David Riesman's distinction between "inward oriented" and "outward oriented” social character in modern times, which we recently mentioned, is very important.
It was about 10 years ago. A medical professor brought her daughter, who was preparing for the university exam, to see me. She was sure that her daughter had a serious psychological problem and wanted me to cure her. I held a long conversation with the lovely little lady. She appeared to be very smart and knew what she wanted. She said that she did not want to be like her doctor parents, as she well knew what they had experienced, and she decided to study cooking in Paris after long researches. Her parents, especially the mother, could not even bear to hear it; they thought she was joking at first, then they decided that she was mentally unstable. In my evaluation, the young lady seemed to be healthier and more mature than all of us, including me. When I shared my evaluation result with the professor mother, she was very angry, held the young lady's hand and forcibly pushed her out. She did not neglect to scream, "Doctor, make your own child a cook!"
The change in our eating culture cannot be identified with fast food alone. Almost every television channel has a famous chef; there are TV channels specialized in cooking in many countries and cookery is a very popular profession that requires international education. Riesman found this change in the eating culture in the U.S. as early as the 1950s. According to him, the introverted person could choose a star from heroes in their own field to take as a role model. Extroverts do not think much about their own life in terms of individual career. The thing they seek is not to be famous but to win the respect and, more importantly, the favor of the peer jury. This affects career preferences and eating cultures.
The eating, that was previously the field of interest of women in the introverted societies of servants in rich kitchens, that was a sign of status and prestige, and that never became a topic of conversation except for its nutritional value, has taken on a completely different meaning after the 1950s. Now it is the palate taste that matters. People who could be called gourmets in the past were very few and now there are many gourmets and those who want to be a gourmet. The presentation and content of meal has changed a lot. Even changes in the names of cookbooks in the past 50 years have been enough to tell what is going on. Food-related issues constitute the topic of many conversations.
Both parents would say that they were free people claiming that they make their own decisions. However, the professor mother who took her daughter who wanted to be a cook to the psychiatrist was an introvert; the daughter who never understood this attitude of her mother and laughed it off was an extrovert.
I am very sorry for writing such an article while the terror spiral that we are exposed to upsets us and while there is a possibility of a world war. I believe that we, ordinary citizens, will adopt the best attitude toward both without breaking away from what is normal and life.