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History is a huge part of it for sure! Take onion and garlic for example. They used to be the only umami ingredients you could grow throughout Europe and they've got plenty of sugar (compare apple's ~13g of carbs to onion at ~9 and garlic at ~30!). Since fruit was not available nearly as much as now, the alliums were one of the most nutritious foods you'd find. That's why it's SO prevalent in Western cuisine, but not nearly as much in others, especially when you look South.

The open-mindedness is another spot on, because your perception of flavour is afaik the only of the 5 basic senses that gets altered by memory before you're even consciously aware of it - that's why the food you got sick eating actually starts tasting bad in itself, not that it just reminds you of the mishap. Makes cooking for others impossible to unpack analytically.

There's a real practical effect for me in both - being aware of the difference between craft and art in cooking is useful after you see it, whether you want to just cook or make someone happy. You can really cook anything you want as long as you cook for yourself. Throw some onion on the pan without looking up a recipe and just let yourself think what spice you feel like or which of the veggies in your fridge is soon going bad. It doesn't really matter as long as you're not trying to imbue the dish with meaning for your guests. Of course, if you do the same for others, nobody will ever say "could you cook that thing with the bean thing and the honey thing that you made two years ago? I loved it"; so you might wanna just grab your grandma's cookbook and make her favourite tajine with a funny twist. Both ways are imho useful and nice.

Hey VM, I'm seriously interested in what happened in your head back then. I'm trying to make sense of my own experience from last year's lockdown and this is the first time I read something that reminds me of it. Can I please ask you a few things before I share my own experience?

1.  Was your experience gradual?
2.  Did it have a clear culmination and then a stop, or did it pass away slowly?
3.  Were there any recurrent themes to your thought, or did they feel random?

You can't even begin to imagine the waking heavens and hells that start unfolding inside your skull. At times I just wanted to curl up in a ball and cry.

4.  Do you remember anything you did to anchor your mind? (Something that helped the feeling of completely losing it)
5.  Did these intense feelings come and go? Was there a regularity to the pattern?

But there is also an observer that can detach and not identify with what the mind is doing.

6.  Did this observer first appear in your mind after this experience?
7.  What did the fact that you discovered this observer mean for your idea of self? Was your past perception of self replaced by this observer?

I'm sorry for the barrage of questions, but I'm very hopeful I can learn from your answers. It's already hard not to obscure the memory too much and sharing what happened to myself beforehand could make us somewhat match the experiences, that's why I'm holding back. I'll share my experience after (or if) you find some time to answer.

Thanks for sharing and looking forward to hearing more!