What happens when we let the authorities – medical or otherwise – define what constitutes ‘proper’ food?

The Skinny: No. 49 • Crisps!

What are we skinning? Crisps.

It’s physically impossible to skin crisps. Physical impossibility – or let’s just say implausibility – doesn’t seem to have deterred Maltese bar owners from stretching the definition of what you can’t and can’t do with crisps, so we’ll ride that (second?) wave if you don’t mind.

Okay, what’s this about? I haven’t had such an urge for crisps since secondary school/high school days… The suddenly crisp-intensive bombardment of the media cycle has probably whet your appetite for the stuff, subconsciously or not. But to answer your question: our conversation right now is, of course, all about the how non-restaurant-based bars suggested they could circumvent the ‘only seated and eating’ patrons measures by just plopping down a pack of crisps on the table.

Worth a shot, I guess. Cheeky and crunchy in equal measure.

Will you please stop with the awful punning. Sorry, but once I pop, I--

ENOUGH! Okay, okay. There is a deeper point I’d like to make here, though.

If you manage to extrapolate something worthwhile from crisps that isn’t cheesy-and-oniony halitosis, you’ll have my vote for the next round. Go on. Thank you. The whole debacle got me thinking: what am even food, though?

Why the terrible grammar? It’s how the kids speak these days on the interweb.

Ok, boomer. They say that too, yes. But what I wanted to get at before your barrage of ageism interrupted my flow is something along the lines of: what happens when we let the authorities – medical or otherwise – define what constitutes ‘proper’ food?

Definitely veering towards boomer-energy conspiracy theory, there… Oh no, I’m not leaning into the conspiracy angle, so get no knickers in no twists about that, please. My argument is purely based on the policing of culinary aesthetics.

So you’re saying you don’t trust Prof Charmaine Gauci and Chris Fearne to define what ‘proper’ food is. I trust them on many things, but this isn’t exactly their remit.

But surely it’s a matter of semantics over aesthetics? Oh, fine-grained philosophical taxonomy. Now we’re talking…

No but come on: the issue isn’t some gourmand’s debate of whether crisps are food or not or whether it’s elitist to say they aren’t… Ah, no? Could have fooled me…

It’s about bar owners doing exactly the opposite of what Minister Fearne told them, and seeking out loopholes at the first opportunity. But that’s a richly home-grown art form in and of itself. Can’t argue with that, can you? Thought not.

Do say: “There’s very little nutritional value in even the poshest of crisps, so let’s not use them as an aid in spreading a pandemic, okay?”

Don’t say: “The government deciding what counts as food and what doesn’t is the clearest possible evidence of ominous Deep State activity.”

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