Tell Me What You Eat and I’ll Tell You Whom You Vote For

bolognese_arugulaLiberals like arugula, conservatives go for meatloaf. How much does biology define our tastes and votes?

One of the reports of the defunct website brought aggregate statistics about food preferences by liberals and conservatives.

Working on inputs from thousands users of the service, Hunch found out some interesting correlations. For example, a liberal is more than twice as likely to prefer arugula than a conservative (who prefer iceberg lettuce). A conservative, on the other hand, is twice as likely to prefer country-style chicken. A liberal goes for modern-style chicken.

I won’t give much credits to these statistics, as they aren’t really based on a controlled population sample. I don’t doubt, however, that if the research were repeated under more rigorous conditions, the results would follow the same trends.

It’s just one more sign (how many do we need to take them seriously?) that our culture sprouts with its roots deeply entangled in our biology.

I love to see monkeys and apes at the zoo. Their strong, full of subtlety, social interactions are so much like ours. I watch them and this feeling that their behavior is as a funny caricature of our human behavior insists to fill my mind.

I have always to police myself to get my thoughts straight: apes aren’t a caricature of humans. Apes and humans share millions of years of common ancestral history. Apes’ social interactions are just a clear remind that much of what we take as “human features” has been on the planet much before our species emerged.

Sometimes it’s scary to learn that even our emotions and feelings may precede us by hundred of millions of years. In an experiment with crayfish, Daniel Cattaert and his team at the University of Bordeaux showed that when this little animal is under stress, pretty much like humans, it looks for comforting environments and behaves shyly. Give the crayfish some anti-anxiety drug as chlordiazepoxide, and it goes back to its normal state, a natural curious explorer of its surroundings.

Have you ever watched Orphan Black? It’s a fun TV show featuring a young women who discovers that she is part of a genetic experiment and that she has clones spread all over the world. Thrilling action, great suspense, but poor biological assumptions: each clone has a completely different personality (revealing the excellent acting by Tatiana Maslany, by the way). But it can’t be like this. From all we know on genopolitical research, if one clone like, say, arugula, the other should most probably like it as well.

Therefore, meeting a clone of yourself should be more like this hilarious cartoon by Charles Addams:

For all those examples, and many more I will spare you, I don’t even flirt with the old and sterile nurture x nature debate. It’s always both.

Culture doesn’t replace of our biology. It blooms from our biology. We don’t know why conservatives prefer (from an American perspective) Italian food, while liberals prefer Thai and Indian. But be sure: there is some serious chemistry of our brain explaining that.

Although it’s reasonable to expect that there are biological influences on our political preferences, we clearly have no idea on how that works. It may come a time when governments, companies, politicians will know how to use this information. Democracy will have a hard time to survive then.

For now, the best we can do is to collect pebbles as those curious correlations from the report. And based on them, I came out with the perfect recipe to be loved through the whole political spectrum (except vegetarians, but who care about them, anyway?).

If you are an ambitious politician, who just want votes, not caring from whom they come from, you may try:

Slow-Cooked Bolognese with Arugula.

Comforting and delicious, it puts together the tradition of the Italian cuisine and the eccentricity of the arugula; a hearty meat sauce and a fresh salad; a conservative brown and a liberal green. This dish is to be prepared in a weekend without hurry. It’s very easy to do, but it will take you 5 hours in total. So, it’s better to start it in the evening before the elections.


For 2 people (and some left over sauce):

  • 1/2 kg of lean minced beef
  • 1 can of peeled tomatoes
  • 3 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 large chopped onion
  • 100 g of arugula
  • Black pepper
  • Chopped parsley
  • Chopped chives
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 200 ml of red wine
  • 200 ml of beef broth
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • 50 g of Parmesan cheese (roughly grated)
  • 2 boiled eggs (14 minutes)
  • 330 g of short large dried pasta (rigatoni, conchiglioni)


First prepare the sauce.

In a large pan, fry the garlic and the onions on a bit of oil and reserve. Fry the meat also on a bit of oil. Return the onions and the garlic and mix them well. Add a pinch of salt, grated black pepper, and the bay leaves and fry everything together for a couple of minutes more.

Add the wine and let the alcohol evaporate. Add the tomatoes, the broth, the parsley, and the chives. You should have about 3 cm of liquid above the meat. If needed, complete with water.

When it starts to boil, taste the salt. (Don’t forget that the liquid will reduce a lot and the salt will concentrate later.)

Cover the pan and lower the heat. Leave it in the minimum temperature that still allow a slight boiling. In my ceramic stove graded from 1 to 5, 1.5 was enough.

Now, just let nature do the job.

Let the sauce cook for 4 hours. Stir every half hour to avoid it to burn in the bottom. Add more broth or water if it dries too much. I split the job by cooking it for three hours in the Saturday afternoon and one hour more on Sunday before lunch. In the last hour, you should control the sauce reduction and the salt.

Cook the pasta al dente. The thick rich sauce goes well with large textured pasta. I’ve chosen large conchiglioni with eggs.

In a very big pan (I used a large wok for that), gently mix the pasta and the sauce.

For the quantities suggested, you may use about 2/3 of the sauce. You don’t want the pasta swimming in the sauce.

Serve the pasta and add fresh parsley and chives. Add the arugula to the top. Lay a bit of olive oil. Decorate with the boiled eggs.  Add a bit of pepper and finish with Parmesan.

Good elections!


Categories: Culture, Life Sciences, Moral and Ethics

Tags: , , , , , , ,

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