At FirstVoice, we define a story as “A fact, wrapped in an emotion that compels us to take an action that transforms our world.” In our book The Elements of Persuasion, we use the story “All Gone” to show how infants use story to react to an empty bottle and transform their world. How strong is the connection between food and story? Does the food on your plate meet our story criteria? The answer, unsurprisingly is “Yes!” The FACT is an uncooked rack of baby back ribs. The EMOTIONS are added by the cook (sauces, spices, presentation); if those baby backs are being served at our favorite rib joint, Mr. Cecile’s on Pico, they truly make your heart sing. When they arrive at the table we are COMPELLED to chow down and so TRANSFORMED.
What started us thinking about this, is the work of Hugo Liu, a rising star at the MIT Media Lab. Dr. Liu developed a computer “cookbook” named Gulp Fiction which custom creates recipes not only by ingredient and cooking technique, but also includes emotional and aesthetic factors. At your next dinner party it could create a main course that is “whimsical”, “primal”, and somehow relates to “Popeye”. The program is currently behind a fire wall at the Media Lab, but you can see its recipe for Ceremonious Ice Cream, and visit Dr. Liu’s website. We find his work inspiring (connected to our element of Awareness) but incomplete. We’re beginning a thread here that deals with food across all five of the story elements. Stay tuned and contribute. And check out Hugo’s website, it is more than worth the click though we have to say that anyone whose website begins with a quote from Nietzsche and who isn’t also sporting a tasty set of prison tats loses a certain amount of philosophical street cred with us.