"Time to get your grub on!"... "Ain't no better vittles than at a southern barbecue... "What say we go to that French place and check out the cuisine?"... "Ya' know, I could go for a little tidbit right about now."... "Think I'll run over to the diner and get my nosh on."... "The other soldiers and I were just going to the mess for some provisions."... "The victuals prepared by the chef were delectable!"... "Hey, anyone interested in grabbin' a bite?"... "Let's head down to the cafeteria and get some chow.".... "Goin' to mama's tonight for some good ol' fashioned home cookin'!"... "There were more than enough tasty morsels at the soiree."... "Say what you will about the atmosphere but they sure put out a great spread!"

So, yeah, food talk, with all its nicknames, gets bandied about more than religion, sex and politics combined. And for good reason, it's something every living thing, bar none, has in common. Our inexorable quest to satiate our hunger starts from the time we're born and never, ever stops. Ya' know, until we're, like... dead (or finally thaw out that "mystery meat" only to discover what it really is). And if you happen to be a member of the animal kingdom who doesn't fit into the human or domesticated pet category, then the concept of nourishment casts a much larger shadow because, other than the whole procreation thing and the need for some shut-eye, these creatures are consumed with eating from dusk to dawn. After all, for them, it's a double-edged sword as they perform the daily high-wire act of relentlessly hunting for food while trying desperately not to become said food.

Interesting, too, that although many of us are fortunate enough to have an easy time of it when it comes to obtaining and storing edibles--supposedly freeing us up to concentrate on weightier issues--it doesn't stop us from obsessing over each and every aspect of the eating process. We assign it a schedule: breakfast, lunch and dinner, fondly known as the "three squares". And then, not willing to leave well enough alone, we go all micro on it, designating subgroups: post-lunch snacks, pre-dinner snacks... after-dinner snacks. Toss in brunch and midnight fridge raids and your plate's full. For the less regimented there's always "grazing", foregoing standard meal times and eating small portions throughout the day. And for the contrarians out there we give you the "hunger strike", normally reserved as a political statement but also proven effective when protesting your significant other's latest cooking debacles.

We've learned how to preserve the stuff, be it canning, freezing, dehydrating, pickling, fermenting, salting or smoking. And we like to keep it in all kinds of places: cupboards, pantries, refrigerators and freezers, cellars and cold storage, pantries, store rooms and coolers. All wrapped up in tinfoil, Baggies, Saran Wrap or encased in Tupperware before being placed in gas ovens, dutch ovens, convection ovens, toaster ovens, crockpots, deep fryers, air fryers or microwaves, pan-fried on the range or tossed on the grill. We can eat at home but, man, do we have a host of other options: cafeterias, mess halls, restaurants, bistros, beaneries, luncheonettes, cafes, diners and tea rooms, chophouses, lunchrooms and pizzerias, sandwich shops and hamburger stands. Not to mention, fast-food restaurants (which I won't). So there it is, the grand irony; we as a people, are consumed with food!

Alright, before you get the wrong impression, know that I'm totally down with the whole eating thing. Just like you, I'm chowin' down daily without fail. It's the complete infatuation with all the components of it that I find exasperating. So much so that, at times, I wonder what it would be like to trade places with a feral animal, acting on instinct alone, my concentration solely on the hunt. No more having to go to the fridge and grab the leftover pizza wrapped in a Ziploc bag and toss it into the microwave, overcooking it to the point where it burns the roof of my mouth. No more interactions with the snarky waitress at the diner who thinks she's all that but is so not. No more waiting in line forever at the McDonald's drive-thru only to be handed someone else's Happy Meal (damn, and I said I wouldn't bring up fast food). So, yeah, I think about that but then I keep returning to the earlier "trying desperately not to become said food" line and... gotta admit, the fantasy stops right there. Becoming food is a deal breaker.

So here's the thing: Truth be told, I've been sorta hungry throughout this whole piece. More than that... famished, actually. So if I've come across as a bit irritable then I apologize. It's a blood sugar thing; it lowers and then I tend to get cranky and go off on a tangent, nitpicking at whatever has my attention at the time. So, yeah, just forget the whole "Foodie Fiasco" I just laid on you. Food is great; long live food!... Okay, I'm out of here; gonna go make myself a sandwich.