Reads, Writes, Eats and Cooks
Walter Isaacson’s 2011 biography of Apple founder Steve Jobs brings up set of gastronomic idiosyncrasies. In the third chapter, “The Dropout,” Isaacson describes Jobs’s fascination with vegetarianism and Zen Buddhism in 1972. According to Isaacson, Jobs at the time was influenced by Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappé and Mucusless Diet Healing Systems by Arnold Ehret. These books encouraged Jobs to assume a diet of simple fruits and starch-less vegetables. Soon, Jobs became obsessed with limiting weeklong diets to single items, such as apples or carrots, either of which he would eat exclusively for a whole week. In doing so, Jobs eliminated milk and carbohydrates that increased the risk of harmful mucus. Referring to Jobs’s carrot diet, Isaacson mentions that, “Friends remember him [Jobs] having, at times, a sunset-like orange hue.” Jobs would also fast from two to seven days at a time, after which “you start to feel fantastic,” according to Jobs: “You get a ton of vitality from not having to digest all this food. I was in great shape. I felt I could get up and walk to San Francisco anytime I wanted.” In the entire biography, prepared food is mentioned twice: once in relation to his eating sushi with his daughter and secondly to his vegan wedding cake. These references to Jobs’s eating habits are by no means anecdotal; describing his return to Apple in 1997 and his obsession with translucent and colored plastic, Isaacson writes that “Jobs became infatuated with different materials the way he did with certain foods.” Food as an indicator of a designer’s relationship with the non-human reveals much about design motivations. Jobs’s compulsion toward clean, simple shapes can be traced back to his demand for mucus-less diets of single fruits.