Maya and I were exploring the aisles of the new Whole Foods, one of our favorite places to go looking for interesting package design and new foods to try. In the produce section we found a strange, deep red, spiny/hairy fruit labeled "Rambutan from Indonesia." It looked so improbable and so unapproachable that we bought one to see if it tasted as strange as it looked. It looked like a sea creature on the outside, and on the inside was a single gelatinous round ball that looked even more sea creaturely. It had been easy to peel open. The pale translucent ball of jelly-like stuff quivered a little. I poked it with a finger and then tasted my finger. Not bad! I scooped it out and took a bite-- really nice! I popped the whole thing into my mouth and discovered a hard nut-like seed in the middle surrounded by lots of soft sweetness. Definitely better to eat than to look at. Package < food.
Then this afternoon I was in a different market looking for some trail snacks. I really liked the plain tan waxed paper wrapping of the Energy Gem. I had never tried one of these, but its homemade-looking label attracted me also. It seemed to say "All our attention is on making a great food thing, not on luring you in with slick packaging. We just wrapped this up in a piece of old-fashioned sandwich paper and slapped on this unpretentious label." I unwrapped it when I got home and took a little taste. Pretty dense and serious. Definitely not as enjoyable as a dark chocolate almond and sea salt Kind bar, but very earnest and healthy-seeming with all those sprouted seeds and a big squashed cranberry on top. As dense as a hockey puck, it will take a few miles of hiking to work my way through this thing. Package= food I think.
Well the Energy Gem might be dense and homely, but it tastes okay-- in contrast to this poor thing. Last week Maya and I caved and bought not one but two new-to-us energy bar things because we loved the sheep drawing on the package. The bar was called something like "Lamb Snack" and it tastes like what I imagine bird suet would taste like-- greasy and seedy and gamey as well as unpleasantly minty. The white streak that runs vertically is congealed fat. The thing smells like a dog treat. So Maya and I carefully peeled away the great packaging and washed it for future use. The bar itself we offered to Jesse, a square quarter- inch- sized piece. Being a cat with very catholic tastes, Jesse gobbled it down but didn't ask for any more. Definitely packaging > food in this case.