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Tuesday at the Wakefield High School library in Virginia, President Obama chose Mahatma Gandhi as the person dead or alive he would like to dine with. Surely the president would bring Mrs. Obama along. Mr. Gandhi would approve. He would have much to share with Mrs. Obama about kitchen gardens and manual work (getting the President to weed the garden would be just what he would prescribe).
I suspect that the Obamas would have been welcome dinner guests at Gandhi's ashram because Gandhi was a public figure who gave considerable thought and attention to food. As do the Obamas, who have publicly chosen a healthy way of eating.
Obama remarked lightly that the dinner would be a really small meal because Gandhi did not eat a lot. Neither indeed Gandhi's visage nor his inclination for fasts give the impression that Gandhi was a gourmand. Brillat Savarin has written that gourmandism is as an act of judgment. Gastronomic judgment is a thoughtful process involving the senses, a harmonizing of the mind and body. Gandhi understood this through practice. By experimenting, tasting and thinking about the effects of foods, he adopted a way of eating that appealed to his palate and meshed with his personal and political beliefs and values.