Monday, December 27, 2010

These People Actually Exist?

I haven't eaten in a restaurant in years, unless you count the occasional grilled cheese in the Hy-Vee grocery eatery. Danny is polite, and well behaved, but I still wouldn't subject the dining public at large to a small child unless it were at an establishment that specifically catered to children. Being vegetarian, our choices were always somewhat limited anyway, and once he developed the food allergy, I was happy enough to pack a brown bag lunch before we went out for the day. In other words, it has been a good seven or eight years since I've been in an environment where people pull out cameras to photograph the food. Disclaimer-we did have Mother's Day breakfast at Hy-Vee once and took photographs-of us, but the pancakes in the photo get the most attention from people who view them. Go figure. At any rate, the pancake photography was unintentional.

I always thought the "foodie" photographing the meal thing was something asshole New Yorkers did, and that the rest of the country just laughed at them. I mean, sure-I photograph what I cook, and provide recipes, and observations about it-but I actually cooked it. The idea of whipping out a camera during dinner, then posing your meal just-so, and posting it on the internet...I don't know anyone that does that sort of thing. Do you?

I do my best to stay out of Whole Foods, so I suppose I'm less likely to run into the sort of people that need to source their cinnamon, spelt flour, or lactating mother's milk cheese or whatever the hell it is people go to Whole Foods to purchase (I don't think they really sell breast milk cheese-as far as I know) but my reaction the exactly one time I've been in the Omaha store being sneered at and pushed out of the way by someone looking suspiciously sickly for all that healthy food they ingest-is that these people are disturbed, and not the norm. Come on, get over yourself-you live in Omaha, Nebraska.

Here's where I'm going to get the hate mail (that I didn't get for the Omaha comment), and that's OK-I've spent most of my life the owner of unpopular opinions-this is about class and hegemony. Not the upper classes, because they don't care. The middlings-that's where this world of single-source chocolate/pomegranate molasses/shade grown coffee/malted barley syrup/how can you be such a vulgarian and not know that corn syrup is the devil?/you need to be "educated" (re)/group of would-be-hipsters gather to go on at length about the above mentioned, "trends." I don't know how many varieties of salt you keep in the larder, but I have three, and all are domestic. I could go snap pictures of them on a plate, if you'd like. One is plain salt for canning.

I've said this before, but feel the need to repeat it-people are eating out of dumpsters, if at all (and I don't mean the people who are doing it as a fad-I mean people who are really hungry and have to eat from dumpsters). This recent "foodie" (god, I hate that term) fad aside from being plain stupid, is obscene. How many people are out of work in the US right now? Photographing and posting the meal you had at some posh establishment is vulgar. It is impolite. It is morally repugnant. It reminds me of the horrible posters people had in the 80's of the man in a polo uniform standing in front of a Rolls Royce that declared, "Poverty Sucks." Indeed it does, and so do you. So do you.

I would not be so presumptuous as to tell people what food to eat. Fine, eat your expensive meal-enjoy it, people who work in kitchens are notoriously overworked and underpaid and will appreciate your patronage-but for fuck's sake, leave the camera at home. If you don't want to eat corn syrup, don't eat corn syrup-but don't be a jerk about it. I don't want to eat a pork chop, but I wouldn't oink at someone as they attempted to eat theirs.

This isn't about food, I'll say that again. Literary snobs are just as irritating but we give them a pass because sometimes they've actually read the book and have something worthwhile to contribute. Sure, we tolerate the pretensions of people with interests in art, music, history, taxidermy (yeah, that's a stretch) and what have you-so surely the food snob isn't a unique phenomenon. I was going to make a snide remark about you can't eat a symphony, or at least you don't need it for subsistence, but that would get outraged hate mail too. Of course, food is no longer merely subsistence...for some people. For great numbers, it is-and I'm as complicit in creating that situation as other middle-class Westerners are. I don't think I'm a better person for my consumption habits. I think I'm a better person for not reveling in my consumption habits. Actually, I feel pretty guilty about my consumption habits, and we're working class by just about any definition.

Something to think about, post holiday gluttony.

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