It’s not gluttony. It’s a neurological condition.
Do you have a consuming passion for food? Do you get a shiver of pleasure from the crackle of crème brulée or the silken pungency of a washed rind Époisses?
You could be suffering (if that’s the word for it) from Gourmand Syndrome. I’m not kidding. Really. I swear.
Gourmand Syndrome is a medically recognized condition in which the patient shows intensely heightened interest in food and a powerful preference for fine dining. It’s a benign disorder that is associated with lesions in the right anterior cerebral hemisphere of the brain, usually stemming from a stroke, tumor, seizure, or a good knock to the head. Skiers are the highest risk group, which is probably why the syndrome was first diagnosed in the Alpine nation of Switzerland.
A prominent political journalist was the first documented case. He woke up in a Zurich hospital, significantly debilitated from a stroke, yet his chief complaint was about the poor quality of the hospital food. A formerly indifferent eater, his hospital writings neglected his political interests for a new-found passion:
…it is time for a real hearty dinner, such as a good sausage with hash browns or some spaghetti Bolognese, or risotto and a breaded cutlet, nicely decorated, or a scallop of game in cream sauce with spaetzle. Always just eat and drink! What a connoisseur I am, and now I am dried-up here, just like in the desert. Where is the next oasis? With date trees and lamb roast or couscous and mint tea…
Still in journalism, he now writes the food column for his newspaper.
Then another patient showed up: same damage, same region of the brain, same sudden-onset food obsession. Marianne Regard, the neuropsychologist for both cases realized she was on to something. Now dubbed Gourmand Syndrome, Dr. Regard and neurologist Theodor Landis commenced an extensive study of the affliction, and ultimately published their findings in the May, 1997 issue of Neurology, the peer-reviewed journal of neuroscience.
Gourmand Syndrome is untreatable and incurable.
For the self-diagnosed, that means you can’t use a health care reimbursement account to pay for a trip to Paris or get a prescription for barrel-aged balsamic vinegar. There’s no handicapped placard that gets you dinner reservations or parking spots in front of restaurants.
Most just suffer in silence.
Or start a food blog.