In a post discussing the value of liberal arts education, Tyler Cowen talks about why he’s interested in food:

I am interested in food (among other topics), not only because of the food itself.  I also view it as an investment in understanding symbolic meaning, cultural codes of excellence, the transmission of ideas, and also how the details of an area fit together to form a coherent whole.  I believe this knowledge makes me smarter and wiser, although I am not sure which mass-produced formal test would pick up any effects.  I view this interest as continuing my liberal arts education, albeit through self-education.