Parallel lines

I find Nicholas Carr’s article on whether Google is making us stupid, very interesting. Especially because, I recently had a conversation with my grandmother along parallel lines. Whiles my conversation with my grandmother is not on reading, I can actually draw some similarities with this article. My grandmother recently moved in with one of my aunties who had just had a baby and needed help looking after the baby since she has a 9 to 5 job. My grandmother is not happy at all in her new environment and I was a little perplexed since she loves babies and she has more people to talk to now than she did when she was living in her own home. Everyone is confused about her behavior and I got appointed to ask her about her strange behavior.

After much probing, she finally confessed that she wasn’t happy because the food tasted very differently! I was very surprised since she actually cooks the meals for the household herself. So I asked her if it was because she couldn’t get all the ingredients she needed for the food in that neighborhood, to which she replied that she did indeed get all the ingredients she needed. Frustratingly, I asked her what then was the problem and she replied in an equally frustrating tone that it was because she had to cook the meals on a gas stove!

Back in her home, she always cooked on a coal pot that used charcoal but in the city where my auntie lives, she had to cook on a gas stove. She went on to complain bitterly about how the gas stove heats up the food differently than how the coal pot does, resulting in the different taste of the food. As ridiculous as that sounded, I was reminded of how I thought my food tasted differently here than when I cooked in Ghana. I was using the same ingredients but they tasted differently and I remember telling my roommates how I thought certain foodstuff in the states tasted differently resulting in a slightly different taste of my food.

Looking back, and reflecting on the conversation with my grandmother as well as on the thoughts of Carr in his article, I am tempted to believe that my grandmother must be right. Perhaps, my food tasted differently now because I cooked on an electric stove here when I had always cooked on a gas stove in Ghana. I remember asking myself why my food always tasted different from my grandmother’s although I used the same procedure (mind you, I am a very methodological person). Maybe, it was because my grandmother always cooked on a coal pot and I cooked on a gas stove.

Just like Google is making it easier for us to find the information we need and actually reducing the amount of time we spend on researching, electric and gas stoves are making it easier for people to cook. But perhaps, this easy mode has a slightly different effect on our wiring or cognitive thinking and in mine and my grandmother’s case, on our taste buds. It will be very interesting to see how much research reveals in the future about how recent technologies and small changes in lifestyles, affect us….