"I suppose there are people who can pass up free guacamole, but they're either allergic to avocado or too joyless to live."— Frank Bruni

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

b vs. b

Lots from my Eater reading in the past week, but a recent interview with Bourdain was the highlight. I never thought I had to choose between he and Bruni, but reading this then this makes for a really interesting debate (and the convoluted discussion that follows).

In his column, Bruni mentions David Chang and his quarterly food and writing journal Lucky Peach which, as you all know by now, I enjoy receiving in the mail and slowly reading my way through. Like Bruni, I probably prefer it to the Food Network Magazine (I'm not sure because I've never read  FNM), and I prefer No Reservations to Paula Deen's shows. Sure, this is reflective, as Bruni states, of the gastronomically privileged life I have been so lucky to have, and he's correct in saying this gives us no right to judge the preferences of less fortunate food lovers.

Well I'm happy to report that I am not guilty of looking down on the food preferences of those without "resources or opportunity." I am, however, guilty of looking down on the lack of food knowledge and diverse receptivity of those who do have resources and opportunity. To not enjoy a colorful assortment of foods with abandon, to not have an ounce of xenophilic curiosity, when you have the opportunity and means to do so deserves my upturned nose (with the exception of a reasonable concern for foodborne pathogens).

So is this a matter of privilege or just personal preference? There are plenty of extremely privileged folks who can't appreciate simple food from humble origins such as menudo, or food from a dai pai dong, or even something as sweet as some ube halaya from a bakery ( ... that is, until it's the cool thing to eat). But what about people who do enjoy these things regularly but have never stepped into a Michelin star-awarded establishment? Does that make them 'less fortunate' with less opportunity or resources? No. What about people who are doing quite well who still love an occasional Filet 'o' Fish? Count me in.

Or does this get down to ingredients? If tripe was consumed in the form of menudo, it would be deemed humble food. If it was served on a fancy plate with some cod, or included in a nose-to-tail pop-up feast, humble may not be the first word that would come to the minds of the 'privileged' consumers.

Or is it a state of mind? Or a matter of how curious one is? Is it a lifestyle? The relatively recent "food revolution" can be credited for bringing age-old concepts like nose-to-tail back into the mainstream, and as stated in this piece, peeps like Bourdain can be credited for championing said concepts. (And yeah, he also gets credit for everything he mentioned in the Eater interview.) I suppose there are many more questions and viewpoints to bring into this discussion and who knows, I could be missing the point, but let's just agree that food is universal. (How's that for a lazy conclusion?)

...and speaking of Lucky Peach, I hope Questlove wins this battle!

(photo cred: Nick Solares via Serious Eats)

No comments:

Post a Comment