Dim Sum by Maria Dahvana Headley, presents readers with a future world where elements from the universe can be consumed and tasted. The short novel unravels the theme of beauty of woman around a dinner experience with Bert Gold and Harriet, a former couple.
One particular thing about the description of the food in this novel is that they are easy to be visualized. Based on Maria’s narration, it is not hard to imagine a universe-themed restaurant in our time, where on the menu goes: comet ice, black hole donut.…. Of course this kind of restaurant does not involve advanced technology rather than the creative thinking of the chef.
To go a little be further in the sci-fi world, the description of food engages me to establish correlation between taste and abstract things. What if all natural and spatial elements, such as black hole, have a taste? What if in our time, we make an artifact that enables us to taste ephemeral things like air and time? What if we no longer depict or describe things, instead we communicate with taste and cuisine? What if dining becomes more a cultural consumption than life-keeping? However, the connection between flavor and spatial material is too arbitrary for me. If translation system from view to taste is too be developed, the correct ways of designing it will still go through a long time of debate.
A more provoking scenario is that Bert Gold is endowed with the talent to eat and spit sins and the sins can become fertilizer for beautiful plants. The series of translation from human thoughts to food then to plants presents to be mind-blowing, as it involves the cycle of materializing mental power and the reversed cycle of food chain. This translation cycle echoes somehow with the overarching theme: what is the beauty of woman? The biased and criticized view from Bert Gold seems to be representing the prevailing appreciation for young model stereotype. These aesthetic is different from that of the outer space, which is why Bert changes his vocation from horticulturalist to critic. On earth, where the aesthetic Bert is representative, growing ephemeral magic plant is honorable, while in the outer space, where the beauty lies in things that lasts, Bert has to give up his profession.