Food is primal. When things go awry, a simple fact remains: if you’re hungry, food satiates that hunger.
Starving? Food fulfills a need. Awkward social event? Food fulfills a need. Upset? Food fulfills a need—though eating your emotions isn’t always the way to go!
Food is the stuff of gratitude. Barring disordered eating, it rarely makes things worse. Memories attach themselves to food as snow blankets the ground: slowly, over time, with a beauty that’s hard to describe but easy to perceive.
Shared meals create bonds. They equalize the social distance between people and, done right, bring joy.
The plot of Final Fantasy X is enmeshed with Joseph Campbell‘s idea of the hero’s journey. According to Campbell, a protagonist on a hero’s journey makes his pilgrimage through various trials and tribulations to emerge a changed—and hopefully bettered—man.
Tidus is a goofy, showoff-y jock at the beginning of Final Fantasy X. He has emotional baggage heavy enough to weigh down a shoopuf. Despite his issues, he focuses on his love of blitzball, a national sport, and revels in the social leverage his MVP status affords him in the city of Zanarkand.
Then Zanarkand falls to Sin, and everything changes.
He finds himself lost and alone, cold and wet, stranded in a strange, unfamiliar landscape of cold, dark stone. Even as Tidus struggles to build a fire, things fall to ruin around him, and his daddy issues are no longer the most pressing challenge of his young life.
Things go kind of crazy after that. Tidus is attacked by a monster and nabbed by folks speaking a language he doesn’t understand. When they bring him aboard his ship, he’s barred from entering the cabins. It’s lonely.
Then comes an Al Bhed girl bearing gifts.
The girl, Rikku, offers Tidus a tray of food. Tidus scarfs it down with the enthusiasm of a starving dog. With this small act, Rikku has acknowledged Tidus and opened up an avenue for social connection.
It’s this first connection that jump-starts Tidus’s new life in Spira, a land very different from his own. Through minute ripple effects, Tidus and Rikku’s meeting eventually ends up affecting the entire world.
The food scene is mostly played for laughs. Tidus’s over-enthusiasm causes him to nearly choke on his food, and his foreigner ways are in sharp contrast to Rikku’s perky assurance. But the scene has a deeper importance in showing characterization.
Using food to symbolize sharing and acceptance, the writers of Final Fantasy X highlight the friendliness of Rikku and the freewheeling stick-to-it-ivenessvof Tidus. Even game characters correllate meals and gratitude.
Gobble gobble, all!