Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Your Pill, Sir

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Your Pill, Sir

Article excerpt


Giorgia Locatelli changed his mind

When Giorgio Locatelli was a boy, he had a plan. Sweeping the floor in his family's restaurant, little Giorgio would boast to his uncle about how rich and famous he would one day be. He, Giorgio, would also open a restaurant. But his would be different - no antipasti, no pasta, no primi or secondi. It would sell nothing but pills. How easy it would be - "One, two, three". As Locatelli, now a famous London chef, tells the story, he mimes swallowing the futuristic food pills and laughs.

The eradication of food must be one of the most pervasive fantasies of the future. As our calendar stares into all those blank years ahead, it's tempting to take it seriously. Many of us already live virtually foodless lives. Berocca for breakfast, Soup Works for lunch, smoothie for tea, champagne for dinner - this is the rich office girl's daily fuel. Tea and pills for breakfast, Complan for lunch, soup for supper - this is the bed-bound diet of many elderly people. It doesn't seem a huge step from this to the three-course meals of chewing gum in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - an alluring notion, but we all know how horribly it ends.

Another fantasy of the future, adopted by philosophers and politicians throughout the ages, is that all food will become the same. Etienne Cabet, a utopian of the 19th century, envisaged a world - Icaria - in which a list would be drawn up of all foods, good and bad. Citizens of Icaria would only eat the good foods, the same for everyone. Homogenised lunches would be eaten by people in all walks of life in republican restaurants.

Even the same toasts would be announced all over the world. Cabet was influenced by Lycurgus, the ancient lawgiver of Sparta, whose regulations obliged all citizens to eat the same food - cereal, figs, cheese, wine and a little fish or meat. …

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