The Message on my Plate

let them understand cake
Original Image

Marshall McLuhan defines a medium as any extension of ourselves, which (as my lecturer Ted Mitew  informs me) may include food.

The physical shape and size of rice makes it easiest to be consumed in a small bowl, generally in small portions, with chopsticks. The chopsticks allow for fast and (if you’re practiced) mess-free dining. If you visit Asia or walk into an Eastern restaurant, you will notice small bowls and chopsticks; rice is a given on the menu. Rice is also relatively tedious to manufacture; it takes a great deal of labour and time in tough conditions to grow.

rice grow.png

Bread (which I’ll widely define to include burger bread, pizza bases etc.) tends to be served in a larger portion than the former; picture a slice of bread against a bowl of rice. This requires a plate of sorts, and often a knife and fork. This is evident in local RSL’s and European restaurants, as well as in Western nations. The more widely used way to eat bread, the sandwich, is portable and (usually) not messy to consume, which makes it a staple for Western picnics and schoolyards. It’s easier to make bread, as most starch and yeast is farmed by machinery before being baked and sold.

In this sense, you can summate that what we (as a culture) put on our plates (or bowls) actually tells us something about our behaviour, which is what McLuhan is essentially saying with regards to the medium is the message. Even looking at one example of a food carbohydrate (medium) that differs between counties, we can reveal a significant amount about the different paradigms and ways of life in those places. In 1000 000 years when our remains are dug up and archaeologists try to piece together our society, our food sources and the subsequent shapes of our pottery could very well lead them to out dietary habits and general behaviours.

So it turns out food really does speak to us! Or about us, anyway. Who’d have thought it? 😉

2 thoughts on “The Message on my Plate

  1. Firstly, I too emulate your appreciation for chicken nuggets and if “the medium is the message” then the message tastes simply delectable and pairs excellently with tomato sauce.
    In reference to McLuhan’s statement, you give a new and unique perspective on the statement and in relating it to the world we experience today. It has been discussed so often in relation to technology that it is forgotten about in the physical environment. Indeed, with it’s definition of being any extension of ourselves we can connect to almost any aspect of our lives. As a society so consumed with technology, historians in the future will be able to gain rich insight from the electronics we use, however a medium can be any object we use. As with the medium being the message, it’s not so much about the object itself but how we have used it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Grace,
    Firstly thanks for commenting & I’m glad you love chicken nuggets as much as I do!!!
    I agree that ‘the medium is the message’ gives really interesting new ways to look at the society we live in, and new ways to understand the paradigms in our everyday lives and where they came from. We can almost act as future historians (pardon the oxymoron) and analyse our own society – pretty cool!
    – Claire


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