Last night, I shared a spectacular red velvet waffle and fried chicken dish with a friend in Harlem, and I inadvertently shattered her entire conception of reality with what I thought to be a well-known fact: the “red” in red velvet is…red food coloring. I witnessed my dear friend pass through the five stages of grief as the reality of the situation set in.
Our perception of the world is utterly malleable, and this fact is exploited by everyone from chefs and copywriters to psychotherapists and social scientists. Few of us have the time or inclination to interrogate the assumptions we hold, and cultural memes can be powerful tools in the hands of savvy marketers.
Placebos can be delicious. Season to taste.