Saturday, February 04, 2006

The Foodie-Anti-Foodie Manifesto

Reading the Julie/Julia Project reminds me of a bunch of things I’ve been meaning to talk about here that I haven’t gotten around to. Julie (and I) is (are) anti-foodie foodies. That is so say, we shun the holier than thou food snobbery of the Dean and Deluca or Whole Foods overpriced over-precioused fancy pants groceries. Don’t get me wrong. If I had the money to shop only at Whole Foods (never even stepped foot in D and D) I would; their offering of foods is seductive but what they have the nerve to charge for their food has a lot more to do with coddling the self-righteous whims of their over-privileged customers. I read in (I’m sure it was the New York Times) that their definition of service includes, opening 75 jars of different mustards so that 1 client could taste each and make sure he was getting just the right one. Imagine the sense of entitlement of that asshole who apparently had no qualms about making the store clerk open 74 not-good-enough mustards before he got to the right one! Not only is it criminal to encourage these rich bastards to feel that they deserve only the freshest hand-harvested springtime fiddlehead ferns for $28/lb but the Whole Foods permutation of the foodie revolution has left most of us in the dust. What good is it if only the very few have access to this? I have a friend back home who insists on only the best ingredients (at whatever price) and thinks cooking means doing as little to them as possible. To me, that's not cooking; that’s one step over from making reservations for dinner. See Julie’s brilliant foodie-anti-foodie manifesto that says it much better than I ever could.

Julie also seems to have it in for smug Americans living in Eurpoe who write about all the precious, wonderful food so readily available here. I hope I haven't made that impression. Actually, living in (way less glamorous than you might imagine!) Milan and seeing all the wonderful fancy-pants food that EVERYBODY buys and eats because it's reasonably priced has led me to question a lot more the whole American foodie revolution. Here it's no big deal. Most people here love food and expect it to be great. Even the lowest common denominator food. So I DO have the luxury to dine on celeriac and cardoons and red radicchio and fennel and pheasant that I know would be out of my economic reach back home. It's just that here, great food isn't a luxury. I wish I knew how to get that concept rolling in the States.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"What good is it if only the very few have access to this?"

Isn't that the point? Isn't it the same reason minorities were excluded from country clubs? Upper middle-class people want to feel special and privileged again, to have exclusive knowledge the rest of their contemporaries of lesser social standing don't have. It's the worst kind of elitist snobbery.

8:27 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

I think I wasn't clear enough. When I wrote, "What good is it" I was refering to the idea that stores like Whole Foods have a certain claim to righteousness but that if only the rich can participate, that doesn't come to much good.

10:13 PM  
Blogger James said...

Please. You do not have to be "rich" to shop at Whole Foods. I am no where near rich, but I do shop at WF for certain things (cheese, seafood, e.g.) but I sure don't get everything there. It's all about being an educated shopper as to where to buy what. Yes, some of their prices are higher, but where I live (Columbus, Oh) there was a comparison done with the other big 3 grocers and WF wasn't the highest by a long shot.
I think one good thing that WF does do is sourcing local foods close to their stores-no other retailer does this. To say that only elites have access is pure BS. If you want to go and see what they have to offer, then go. If you don't, then don't. There are no guards at the door, secret handshakes, or cryptic passwords. You don't have to make gobs of money to be a "foodie", you simply have to appreciate good food/ingredients for what they are.

4:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really don't understand about this obsession some people have with food. Don't get me wrong...I like a good meal just as much as the next guy...but some people take it WAY too seriously. To is food.

A $100 dollar meal at a fancy restaurant looks and smells the same as a Big Mac and fries when it comes out on the other end.

Know what I'm sayin??

2:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>> There are no guards at the door, secret handshakes, or cryptic passwords.

this would be funny if it didn't display the amount of Snobbery, ignorance and igdignancy enjoyed by most Foodies.

The next time you see an economic minority shopping at HF or D&D, please return here and post and have them post. I'd like to see just how long it takes...

6:12 PM  

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