Picture this: an ordinary lemon.
Unpeeled, rotund, not quite large enough to induce visions of GMO-saturated orchards. Riddled with nearly-imperceptible bumps that suggest the lemon has a Spidey-sense of its own. But the lemon will find no danger today, my friend. This lemon has led a peaceful, soothing life. This lemon is ready to accept what the future holds.
Now imagine that the lemon has found itself at the side of a paved road, nestled in the curb on a sunny day, but the lemon is not perplexed or distressed by its surroundings.
The lemon begins to roll, not end-over-end but on its side, moving so smoothly that its rotation is nearly imperceptible. Observe the lemon, but make no attempt to interrupt its journey.
As Jim Morrison, Chopin’s cadaverous neighborino, once said, “A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself — and especially to feel, or not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at any moment is fine with them. That’s what real love amounts to — letting a person be what he really is.”
The lemon feels its inner truth speaking in a low, peaceful buzz. Let us accept its choice to stay in the curb and roll.
Let us be friends of the lemon.
At your own leisure, re-enter our reality — this flight of fancy exists in the vast expanse of social media. In mid-July, Mike Sakasegawa happened upon the journey of a lemon not unlike our imaginary friend. He recorded the event, tweeted it, and the video was viewed nearly ten million times. If you need a two-minute respite from the rest of the garbage fire that is Twitter, Sakasegawa’s video is the perfect solution.
The popularity of the video can be explained by a multitude of intersecting factors, but there is only one correct prediction to be taken from its moment in the zeitgeist:
The future of American television will be built on the premise of food rolling downhill.
To some extent, this phenomenon has already grabbed the world’s attention through the Cooper’s Hill Cheese Roll. By my own predictions, a collection of various food-rolling events will be the world’s most popular sport by 2030. The Cheese Roll will be the preeminent sub-category of the TumbleFoods conglomerate, but the sport will also rely on other events like the Lemon Voyage, Banana Limps, and the Tater Tot Totter.
The massively entertaining and varied TumbleFoods conglomerate could also offer greater variety and local color than other popular sports. The NFL and NBA might name a team after local wildlife or an outdated occupation, but TumbleFoods could incorporate the local cuisine of teams across the country. Wisconsinites could chase brats down the dunes of Lake Michigan’s shores. Seattle natives could muster up a disaffected shrug as overrated coffee beans spill into the suburbs of Tacoma. New Englanders could host the country’s biggest bonfire and send their classic dishes caroming into ash where they belong.
There may be a few logistical issues for TumbleFoods, but details are hardly necessary for the inception of a sports league. Hockey was started not with an idea for offsides and double assists but when two figure skaters brawled on the ice and lost all of their teeth. The NFL did not begin with the catch rule — it started when Bill Footballs sought out a new frontier for enabling misogyny, racism and class exploitation.
Naturally, TumbleFoods would be hosted by Guy Fieri. But TumbleFoods Guy would not be the Fieri your cool uncle knew, decked out in bowling shirts and frosted tips. No, this world-class sports league would be hosted by an older, wiser Fieri. A Guy who has grown not only to appreciate the finer things in life, but to throw them aside in favor of slamming the brain’s dopamine button as many times as much as humanly possible in this short, meaningless existence.
Picture this: an extraordinary Guy Fieri.
He is a few years older than your last recollection of the culinary wunderkind, when he was a youthful wrecking ball forged in the crucible of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. He is not yet wizened, but the gleeful expression once stretched across his face has grown weary. Instead of its old nuclear bleach, the tips of his hair and the center of his goatee are now a tasteful silver. He is seated in the comfortable embrace of a red velvet armchair, balancing a leather-bound cookbook over his left leg with his hand lazily draped over the right armrest. The knit of his grey, woolen turtleneck changes at various points along the torso in homage to the wilder bowling shirts of his youth.
“Hello,” Guy says to the camera located a few feet in front of the chair. “I used to spend my days traveling the globe in search for a place I once knew, a place called Flavortown. My search took me to far and unfamiliar lands, but I never found my El Dorado. Only recently have I realized there is more to Flavortown than taste alone.” He pauses. With a sigh and a nearly imperceptible glance to an unseen figure beyond the reach of the camera, he continues.
“In Flavortown, there is movement, raw energy passing from one dish to the next. I thought I might understand it by studying salmon-flinging at coastal fish markets. I thought I would find enlightenment by studying the hot dog cannons found at baseball stadiums across the nation. But it was all distorted, distant from the true nature of Flavortown. Only in rolling, one of the simplest movements, can we approximate Flavortown bliss. I have some lovely foods and meditations on flavor I would like to show you. Will you join me?”
A trace of Guy’s once-manic grin crosses his face. He opens the tome and adjusts his small, transition-lens reading glasses.
“Let us close our eyes and meditate on the movement of food, my friend. Picture this,” he says as the camera pans to the crackling fireplace to his left. “An ordinary lemon.”